The other day our team lost. Actually, that’s an understatement. We’re not having a very good season, so we’ve lost a lot of games. This was something else entirely. We were annihilated. I’d tell you the score, but I don’t think my husband would appreciate that. I asked a player in class the next morning how he felt, and his first word was “embarrassed.” I think that about captures how the whole team felt, my husband included. Days like that, we all wish our league had a mercy rule.
It’s the kind of loss that leaves my husband wondering if he has any business being a coach at all. (Do other coaches question that when they go through rough patches?)
I sat awake later than usual, lending a listening ear to my husband as he doubted his career choice and questioned where he’d gone wrong with his pitching staff to give up so many runs. I tried to comfort him, to encourage him, to remind him there’s more to this career than winning. But days like that day, there’s only so much a wife can say, and most of it doesn’t help anyway. Sometimes he just needs to be frustrated and hard on himself. Sometimes, he just needs me to say, “Yeah, you’re right. This sucks right now.”
That night I was grateful he got home after our daughter was already asleep. It wouldn’t have been fair to either of them if he’d gotten home earlier. She would want to play with him, but he needed to be able to vent and process and be upset about the how the day had gone. Lately, he has been doing a nice job of leaving it at the field, but this one was too deep to let go without ample time to process.
He felt like his career was crashing down around him. He felt like he was chasing an impossible dream, like maybe he wasn’t called to coach after all.
But the next day a former player returned to town because he’d just lost his mom. Now, this isn’t a tragedy I would wish on anyone. But this is what my husband needed to get his head out of the stat book. It’s what he needed to remember why he is a coach.
My husband, without hesitation, invited this young man over to our home. (Then he thoughtfully called me to make sure I knew to prepare an extra setting at the table.) He needed comfort and prayer. He needed to not be alone, but he needed to escape for a few hours. My husband saw those needs and immediately sought to meet them.
This man is called to coach, and right when he needed it most, he was reminded of that calling.
He may not always win, but he will always have people whose lives he has transformed. He will always have people who seek his guidance and support when they aren’t sure who else to turn to. He will always have people who are comfortable coming to our home when they aren’t comfortable anywhere else because of the relationships he has formed with them and because we have welcomed them many times before.
This man is called to coach because it is his ministry. God uses him in the lives of the players he has coached, and that is why he has every reason to be in this career, even in the midst of the worst games and the worst seasons.