In the Stands, Always Beside the Coach

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Photo via Maggie Junior
By: Payton Smith
September 20th, 2016


The coach’s wife. Loyal to a fault. Linked to a sacred sisterhood. Completely invested in your child.

“Can my dad ride to my game with you?” my coach asked me. At this time, he hadn’t yet proposed to me the offer of coach’s wife. I remember the nervous energy I had preparing to go to my very first game. I got off work, hurried to purchase something red, white, and blue, and zoomed over to pick up my coach’s dad. As we exited off the highway and began our trek across the overpass, my little foreign car sputtered to a stop. It had run out of gas. My father-in-law to-be pushed my car to the nearest gas station. It was my first game, my first time meeting his dad, and I was completely mortified. The build-up, anxiety, nervousness, and stress of that night was nothing compared to what my future would bring.

As time progressed, I realized I had unknowingly been immersed into a society of women I never knew existed. A group of women with an understanding and a lifestyle that few can comprehend. Yes, it is in the wife of a Texas high school football coach that I find the fiercest loyalty one has ever known. My coach is responsible for calling plays for a Division I-6A team. Often times, I agree with the perfect pass play to my favorite slot receiver. Other times, I wonder where in the dearly beloved Heavens my husband has concocted the route the sophomore running back just took down the middle. I can disagree with him. That’s my prerogative, as it is with any wife and her coach. But you there, sir, coaching from the bleachers, don’t you dare!

I dare conclude that when our husbands approach the sideline with headset-covered ears atop matching polos, they cease to be human to many. The same man put on a pedestal for a victory over a crosstown rival can the very next week be the center of ridicule when the team is down by two possessions at halftime. I learned from a fellow and veteran coach’s wife that one must be highly selective in choosing a spot in the bleachers because it’s easier to be out of hearing range than to sit idly by while the coaching staff is under scrutiny.

Learning to bite my tongue is quite minute in comparison to the wide array of skills you might find among coaches’ wives. Even with the obstacles and challenges of the coach’s wife life, it’s an empowering calling. In the absence of our husbands, much is learned. “I have become a pretty good landscaper,” boasted Maggie Junior, Justin Northwest wife. “I mow when I can to help alleviate his chores around the house.”

Coaches sacrifice a great deal, and much comes at the expense of his family. “Most people don’t know it’s a seven-days-a-week job,” said Junior. She went on to explain that during the season, they have to quietly sneak out of church in order to for her coach to grab some lunch and get to school to game plan for the week. In fact, the commitment isn’t even isolated to football season. “All household decisions are based on the coach’s schedule,” shared Valencia Ward, Arlington Sam Houston wife. “This includes summer vacations.”

Quite possibly one of the very best aspect of being a coach’s wife is the opportunity to immerse your family into an incredible lifestyle. “Coaching is unique because it’s one of the few professions where the whole family can be involved, and kids can see their daddy working on the sidelines,” said Junior. The commitment of a coach requires the support of the wife. It’s a family affair. “I have brought at least two kids to every game he’s had because sometimes that’s the only time the kids would get to see their dad,” added Ward. Come rain, shine, Texas heat, or 27-degree bitter cold for a playoff game, you can rest assured that the coach’s biggest fan is in the stands.

The primary reason most men assume the role of coach is quite simply the kids. They pour into their lives hoping that the time shared on the field can in some way influence them and help prepare them to be men of character upon graduation. The love for these kids isn’t isolated to the coach, though.

Watching those boys week after week and hearing about their growth and development as athletes and as students, tugs at the heart strings of the coach’s wife. Whether it’s checking their stats after they move away to play college ball, praying that they’ll continue to pursue their very fullest potential, or learning to love the next boy in the same jersey number, a coach’s wife loves the team as if they were her own.

The role of coach’s wife extends far beyond bedazzled t-shirts, wife retreats, and an annual 50-yard-line family photo. It’s crazy, tragic, and beautiful all at the same. Ward described it quite perfectly: “There are things only a coach’s wife understands.”

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