Behind the Bench

basketball

My husband coaches basketball games. I watch basketball games. Our children alternate between playing chase around the gym and fixating on their tablet, completely oblivious to the on-court battle gripping the rest of us by our throats. More often than not, I feel like a referee myself as I try to keep Numbers 1, 2, and 3 happy until they can run around on the court after the game. Let’s face it, they’re only here for the Skittles. A lot of times, I feel like this: IMG_0275

Even on our worst nights, when everyone is fussy and touchy and grouchy and hungry– always hungry– I feel compelled to fill our seats in the stands. I’m drawn to our usual seats with an undeniable magnetism to cheer on our girls and support my man. The view from back here, behind the bench so to speak, is oftentimes tumultuous at best.

We lost a big game tonight. That’s basketball speak for: A lot was riding on this game:

  • A district championship, for starters. Would have been the first one in 40 years in this town.
  • Pride. It’s girls basketball for heaven’s sake. It takes a VERY INTENTIONAL effort to fill the stands. We had a good turnout, and we really wanted to deliver for our fans and give them a reason to come back and keep supporting us.
  • Senior Night. Did I mention it was the last home game most of these senior girls will ever play? This will be one of their forever memories, unfortunately scarred by a loss.
  • And validation. My husband-coach has always preached that hard work pays off. He may not agree to it, but I was definitely needing to feel validated tonight. I needed to feel that all of his man hours and all of the girls’ sweat and practice in prep for this night had made a difference.

But it was just one of those nights. Great strides have been made this season. We’re still a playoff contender. There’s much to be proud of, but it doesn’t replace the sting of missing our goal by THIS much, by being THIS CLOSE.

It’s different, sitting back here behind the bench, supporting my man and his team. I’m not really a part of the team, and I obviously don’t actively contribute to the outcome of the game. (My overweight 5’3″ frame doesn’t quite fit the bill like it used to, at least not without the aid of a personal oxygen tank to jog alongside me.) 🙂 But make no mistake about it, I very much have A LOT invested in this team and their games.

Which is why I feel all the Big Feelings choked up in these match-ups. I lose my voice in cheerful glee when we run away with a win; I swallow back inappropriate swear words and possibly irrational anger when we face a loss.

Because I know all the behind-the-scenes prep work that stole my man’s time in the week prior to these games, and I want very badly to see that his dedication to this time away from our family was worth it. That’s my investment. He is watching film, scouting, statting games, printing individualized scouting reports, scouting, prepping motivational gimmicks to pump up team morale, networking with other coaches, scouting, 6:00 am practices, after school practices, attending junior high games to build rapport, scouting, and a host of other things (including scouting of course)– all of the tasks that my man is happy to do in the name of Thou Holy Almighty Basketball Season.

I am dallying in all things offspring-related: the school stuff, the medical stuff, the emotional stuff, the dinner stuff– for one EXTREMELY fickle eater and two who don’t eat enough to warrant actually cooking most weeknights (Yes, boys, we are having cereal again), the bedtime routine stuff. He is there. I am here. That is the investment I can offer.

I love this game. And oh my gosh, I love this man! And that’s ultimately the bottom line. Sometimes we coach’s wives will end up driving an hour and a half to an away game just to end up driving home without a win; sometimes despite our man’s and our team’s best efforts on Senior Night, we fall a little short. Sometimes we want our man’s hard work to pay off so badly it hurts. Because we love him that much. We know that he deserves to bask in the glory of being the best, earning the trophy, wearing the ring. We support him always, especially on nights like tonight. Eventually his time will come. Eventually he’ll be the best, earn the trophy, and wear the ring. He’ll remember that we were always in his corner, patiently waiting for what we knew would come. And it will come.