Category: Football and Family

Reflections and stories from our life as a coaching family. Helpful information as well as a peek inside the coaching life.

Team Traditions: Dad’s Day

Team Traditions: Dad’s Day

dads day game thoughts

Last month Ordell and I attended the U of I vs. Rutgers game. It was my first football game at the University of Illinois and I have to admit I was not prepared for the emotions Dad’s Day would bring.

The Illini Dads Association was founded in 1922 and is believed to be the oldest in the nation. As the Dads of the cheerleaders and football players took their places on the field to lead their sons out onto the field an announcer began to explain what was happening and all I could think of was the dads of the seniors.

How many years of games had they cheered in the bleachers? How many hours spent waiting to pick up their children from practice or listening as a child rehashed the day? How many checks did they write over the years for team fees? How many pairs of shoes, extra clothes, and bags did they buy?

Now it was all ending in a few weeks. I couldn’t help but wonder if those dads were wishing they had taken a few more vacation days to attend those early games. Were they wishing the years had gone differently or were they grateful for the moment?

As the cheerleader’s dads dutifully took their places next to their daughters they were so enthusiastic, working hard to keep the crowd engaged while also enjoying their view on the sidelines of the game. They did their pushups after U of I scored and even attempted to somersault out of their positions.

The best part by far was the traditional Can-Can dance performed by the dads during the halftime show. Check out the full show here.

As a coach’s wife, I understand how invested many parents are in seeing their children succeed. The University of Illinois seems to have found a beautiful way to honor dads with long-standing traditions that are lighthearted and joy-filled that also have unique sentimental aspects each year as different families are featured.

The hardest working dads on the field that day were those of the cheerleaders, who luckily for them, took the second half off. It was a delight to see those fathers their sons and daughters with that familiar gleam of pride on that Saturday. Congrats to the University of Illinois for continuing a beautiful tradition that honors parents, athletes, and tradition. It was an enjoyable afternoon.

Coaches: Surprise Your Wives

Coaches: Surprise Your Wives

Coaches: Surprise Your WIves

Years ago I could tell that my husband was in need of a break, but as I looked at our calendars it was clear finding time was going to be a challenge because as a newer head coach he was still trying to figure out how to balance work and family. I packed our bags and booked a hotel in St. Louis and arranged for one of the coach’s wives to meet us at Elijah’s Upward basketball game on Saturday afternoon.

Instead of heading home we moved the car seats over and headed into St. Louis for dinner, dessert, and a restful evening. The next day we took our time heading back after grabbing our favorite Trader Joe’s goodies and for years I’ve known that if I ever do something like that again I need to figure out a way to pack Ordell’s laptop. It was the one thing I couldn’t get into the car without raising suspicion.

He Finally Surprised Me

Last month Ordell planned a 24-hour getaway for us that was a complete surprise for me and I have to admit I was pretty impressed. Not only did he pull off a complete surprise as far as the initial getaway, he also had additional surprises along the way.

The timing of this surprise trip was similar in that I’ve been buried in a project that has taken a lot of my focus and at the end of a very busy and extremely long football season (June-October) we needed time to have fun. Although we’ve been diligent about our weekly date nights on Wednesdays even those grow stale after a while when you are lulled into a routine of exhaustion.

Our weekend included exploring a new spa, a gluten-free bakery, middle eastern food, and some shopping. Ordell planned every detail of what we did while we were away focusing on many of our favorite things. Everything was preplanned so I didn’t have to make any decisions on than choosing a menu item. Similarly to when he was feeling exhausted in other areas and needed time away, this was a huge part of what made our time away special.

So here’s my suggestion coaches, surprise your wives.

  • Be intentional with a plan.
  • Take care of all the details from the hotel, to the date, to what will happen with the kids while you are away.
  • Prepare a budget so there aren’t any regrets when you come back either.
  • While away serve your wife. Let her sleep in if that is something she never gets to do.

I have to admit, the most shocking part of this surprise is that both our boys were in on it and neither one spilled the beans. I’m not sure if this is a good thing, because them not being able to keep secrets well has been a great comfort of mine. However, now that they are old enough to help arrange rides to and from school, I know this was helpful for Ordell.

I’m also deeply grateful for our local family members who were willing to stay overnight with the boys and carpool them around. It takes a village to pull off a surprise when you are busy, and in both our cases we needed help to make sure our boys were in good hands so we could relax while away.

If you don’t have family nearby consider swapping with a friend. I’m sure you will find that someone else will happily hand over their kids so they can have a kid-free night if you offer!

Start Somewhere

Is an out of town overnight out of reach with time or budget or both? There are a ton of ways to surprise your wife and show her you are intentionally thinking about the things SHE loves without leaving your house.

  • Send flowers
  • Show up with a babysitter and take her out for dinner
  • Arrange for someone to clean the house while you are out for the day
  • Take a day off work and send the kids away for the day

So coaches, take time every once in a while to invest in your marriage by surprising your wives. I guarantee you will both appreciate the effort.

Evergreen Senior Gifts

Evergreen Senior Gifts

evergreen gifts

One of the challenging things about finding the right gifts for seniors, besides staying within a budget, is finding a gift that students will appreciate for a long time. There are only so many trophies and plaques that will hang in an office or bedroom. In fact, most of those will end up in a box in an attic when a player goes to college or moves into their first apartment. But if you can give a future alum with an evergreen gift you can remind them of their glory days in your program and ensure that your money isn’t going to waste.

Here are 3 Unique Evergreen Gift Ideas

custom photo

Framed Photo Collage

This unique framed photo collage is a classy way to highlight a player’s time in a program. Note the paper features the school name and mascot. The jersey number is the feature of the frame but the photos can include the player and their teammates in any way you prefer. This frame is nice enough to hang in any den or office and will also look great in a dorm room.

I don’t remember where I found this image, I’d love to give credit where credit is due!

christmas ornament

Ornament

This Christmas ornament is a great way to give a gift that doesn’t need to stay up all year round. It’s simple and will store nicely so it’s likely to remain a keepsake for a long time.

Inspirational Quote

Another option is to give a gift that has a quote that carries meaning for the team. You can have just about anything engraved these days. A keychain, watch, or frame are great options depending on the length of the quote. Pound the Rock, Commitment over Comfort, Embrace the Suck Factor, EMAP, and specific Bible verses are all examples of options that would have worked for previous groups of seniors.

engraved keychain

I hope this helps you consider a few different ideas as you are looking for new ways to honor your seniors in the years to come. Perhaps it’s the fact that we’re nearing the new year, but I’m finding myself seeking more ways to minimize the clutter. Gifts are something that tend to take up a lot of packing space when we move and are always a challenge to figure out how to display in each new home. We want to honor our teams and the amazing memories we have. We have found that a yearly photo book is the best way for our family to keep a physical reminder of each year on display without overwhelming our decor.

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