It’s job transition season! This is by far the hardest time of year for coaching families for many reasons, but for me, the brutal part of this time of year is that this is when it hits home that football is a business. Even when you feel like you work on a staff with friends who you love as much as family members, when it comes down to it, this is the time of year when job loss can cause deep wounds.
Hirings and firings don’t always make sense, and if any part of coaching teaches the discipline of surrender, it is this time of year. As wives, we don’t have control over who interviews our husbands or which job offers they receive, but we always have control over our actions, words, and choices.
I’ve learned a few important lessons from the sidelines that apply to job retention as well as the hiring process I’m sharing today. Of course, everyone’s experience is different and you are free to disagree. Still, with two decades under my belt, I’ve taken time to compare our experiences with others in the business and ours are not unique. I’m confident these tips are ones to remember, and I wish someone had shared them with me sooner.
Here are 5 Things Coaches’ Wives Should Know
Wives Absolutely Can Impact Job Retention
I’ve watched the same scenario repeat itself multiple times a year. For example, a wife publically confesses her husband is having difficulty finding a job or their family has moved frequently in the past several years to new staff situations. As a result, she feels like the odd wife out and, for some reason, finds herself in conflict with the other wives.
Other wives commiserate with her, and eventually, it comes out that the real reason this family moves is that every head coach they have worked for is a terrible leader and clueless coach, and for some reason, this wife can’t understand why no one sees her husband’s talent.
Here’s the thing. There are 100 coaches for every one open position, and coaches do not want to deal with staff drama if they don’t have to because wife drama eventually affects the staff. So, find that your husband is having a hard time retaining a job. It might be time to consider if what you posted on social media or said in the community could leave a sour taste in your husband’s references or raise red flags with potential employers.
Very few coaches are going to have an honest conversation with you about this subject, but I promise it’s a thing.
Your Words are Not Your Own
Even when you take the time to preface a statement with “This is my opinion. I have no clue what my husband thinks. We haven’t discussed it,” others will assign your words to both you and your husband. So, be very cautious about what you say publically, and when in doubt, error towards silence or a positive statement. (Please refer back to my previous point as well as comments regarding players, parents, and administrators).
You Will be Expected to Volunteer
Even in scenarios where you have ideal administrative support, most communities prefer to see coaches’ wives actively involved with the teams. This doesn’t mean you should do things that you dislike. Find your sweet spot and stay in your lane, but it’s important that you don’t take a stance of coaching being “his thing” without a necessary reason. If you are sitting at home on game day simply because you find the sport he coaches boring this will ultimately add stress to your husband’s job.
It’s Always the Leader’s Fault
This one is frustrating, but it’s important to remember. When the team loses it’s the head coach’s fault. When the team wins it’s because of their talent. It’s tempting to want to defend our husbands and there is absolutely a time and place for this, but you need to know when to pick your battles.
You Will do Part of Life Alone
Sometimes Coaches’ Wives express frustration that their husbands aren’t able to skip football games to attend weddings in October or that they need to attend a staff meeting instead of joining you at a neighbor kid’s birthday party.
I understand it’s always more fun to have your favorite person with you when you attend events, but part of the coaching life means you will do some things alone. In-season does not last all year.
If your husband was a lawyer, would you ask him to skip making closing arguments on a case because it was inconvenient for your plans? It’s important to remember that there are seasons when all careers require us to prioritize assignments over personal time. So keep an accurate perspective about things. Yes, your husband likely works nights and weekends. But here’s the thing, my boss doesn’t call Ordell and ask his permission before scheduling a conference call. And when I have a call, I’m expected to be 100% present. It’s my job.
Everything I’m sharing today is a lesson I wish I’d learned earlier in our marriage. Knowledge is power! So take these tips and consider how you are able to apply them to your life circumstances.