Our Coaching Journey

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Journey.”

In our bedroom, we have a map on our wall. Around the border are these lyrics from Tim McGraw’s “Set this Circus Down”: “We keep rolling down this highway, chasing all these crazy dreams. […]  “One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground just outside some sleepy little town and set this circus down.”

It suits us.

The coaching family lifestyle is, by much of the word’s standards, a crazy dream. Between our creative packing strategies, our ridiculously energetic dog, and our wild efforts at feeding massive numbers of collegiate athletes out of our tiny kitchens, we’re running quite the circus. (And we don’t even have kids of our own yet!)

Our coaching journey is still young (even for Ricky who’s entering his tenth year of it), yet it’s already taken us through so much. And I’m not just referring to the physical relocations.

This journey has taught us more about perseverance than we ever thought we would need to know. Whether it’s the perseverance needed to survive a long and hectic day, to snap a 10-game losing streak, to handle days—or even weeks—without seeing each other, or to cushion rejection from top recruits and desired jobs, the coaching journey requires nothing more than it requires perseverance.

This journey has taught us about unconditional love. We learned to love the knucklehead who grew up in foster care and lacks a full understanding of the word respect. We learned to love the rich kid who has never needed to work for anything before this. We learned to love the guy with no talent but unlimited motivation. Even when they make me want to pull my hair out, I root for them, I take pride in their successes, and I swear I’d be the first to pull out the mama-bear claws on anyone who dares to even think a negative thought about any of them.

This journey has taught us about our own shortcomings, but it has equally taught us about God’s power that is made perfect in our weakness. We wouldn’t be here without His grace.

Our coaching journey has transformed us. It’s equipped us with the dispositions to work with a variety of personalities. It’s made us flexible and open to change, be that a change in the schedule or a change in perspective. It has expanded our definition of family and stretched us to rely wholly on our faith.

But this journey is still new, so I’m sure we have more to learn and more ways to change ahead of us than we have behind us.


A Pep Talk for My Fellow Coaches’ Spouses

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pep Rally.”

Dear Coaches’ Spouses,

You’ve been awesome this season. I am always amazed by how much you can accomplish in such a short amount of time, all while riding an emotional rollercoaster of wins, losses, celebrations, and frustrations. Your words have been words of encouragement and words of harsh truth, yet you seem to know which each situation calls for. You’ve been giving pep talks to coaches, players, and even parents. But you deserve a pep talk too.

When you’re feeling discouraged or burnt out, use these three techniques to renew your spirit:

  1. Give yourself a guilt-free break. Everyone needs a break, and you deserve one. Take time to do something you enjoy. Get pampered. Read for fun. Go out for dinner. Read a book. Catch a movie. Snag some extra sleep. Choose your favorite way to get some R & R, and spend some time doing that without the slightest sense of regret. This can be on your own or with friends—whatever is most rejuvenating to you—and it’s even better if your spouse has time to take a break with you, but don’t let the busy coaching schedule get in your way.
  2. Reminisce on your favorite memories. What made you want to marry this coach? What moments inspired you to get involved in your role as a coach’s spouse? When have you seen the fruits of your labor flourish? What are the most meaningful moments of your marriage beyond the coaching realm? Look for bits of inspiration in those memories.
  3. Re-discover your purpose. Read scriptures and pray over this. You are in this role for a reason, and the Lord will be your strength and utilize your gifts if you dedicate them to His Kingdom. Too much doing without enough reflecting can lead to distraction, and it becomes easy to lose sight of your purpose. Take time to re-discover why you’re here. You may be reminded of your original motivations, or you may even discover something new.

Continue on in the important and meaningful role the Lord reveals to you, whatever it may be.


Mrs. Coach Walk

The Code of a Coach’s Wife

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I Walk the Line.”

I’ve spent much of my life concerned about how young women allow themselves to be treated by young men. Many young women are driven by their desire to be loved and accepted by young men, and they will compromise the standards they set for themselves in order to receive attention from the young men around them.

This practice terrifies me about the society we live in and its future.

During my first year of college, my friends and I would share a saying (source unknown) that girls were like apples. Many guys would pick up the damaged apples off the ground, but it took a great young man to climb to the top of the tree for the best apples. We used this to help each other remember not to lower our standards for any young man.

But not all young ladies can stick to this encouragement.

Now, as a baseball coach’s wife, I interact much more with young men than young women. The players on our team see me in my home and in my marriage. We often hear players comment on how lucky my husband is, or that they hope to find a woman like me someday.

To be fair, they don’t see my imperfections. They see me at my best. They see my support and my generosity. They see my commitment, and they see my faith. I am far from perfect, but they don’t see all the ways I fall short every day. 

My hope is that these young men will raise the standards for the young women in their lives. My hope is that they will look for strong young women who will not waiver in their convictions in order to gain attention. My hope is that they will not give attention to those insecure young ladies.

And as they raise their standards, the young women will  meet those standards.

In short, I hope I can set an example that will change our society one small step at a time.

What do you think, am I a dreamer?

I’d Rather Be Watching Baseball

Perhaps that is entirely too predictable. If you know me or have read a single previous post on my blog, you already know I love being at the baseball field. But why?

The man. It warms my heart to see my husband in his element. At the field, he is fulfilled. How many men are so passionate about what they do? Certainly, plenty. But how many wives get to watch their husbands exercise that passion on a regular basis? Very few. I count myself entirely blessed to even have the opportunity to see that side of my husband.

The “kids.” I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it a thousand more times. I really love these boys, and each year I love them more. I love being able to support them, and I would do just about anything for them. Including spending three hours in L.A.’s rush hour traffic.

The outdoors. It’s great to have an excuse to be outside with no work to do and some entertainment. Need I say more?

The adrenaline. This is really a love-hate relationship for me. I joke that every baseball game gives me grey hairs. Seriously, though, I’ve been getting grey hairs, and I refuse to believe it’s because of my age. If we’re losing, I’m on the edge of my seat. If it’s close, I’m on the edge of my seat. If we have a big lead, I’m on the edge of my seat. But I love it. I love the excitement of it all.

The field. Baseball fields are pristine. There is something calming about perfectly cut grass and rigidly straight lines. Even when the dirt gets shuffled around and the lines get scuffed, there is something artistic about the pattern that’s left behind. It’s evidence of the big plays in the game.

The crowd. Not every group of fans knows how to make the most of a baseball game, but when you find one that does, it’s magical. I once had the pleasure of sitting among fans who brought squirt guns and doused each other in water each time their team scored. A good crowd is the best therapy in a stressful game.

The versatility. Today’s Daily Post prompt asks, “Beach, mountain, forest, or somewhere else entirely?” I’ve been to ballparks overlooking the beach, in the mountains, and with the view of a forest. I’ve been to ballparks in cities, ballparks in wheat fields, and ballparks on airstrips. Why choose one if you can have them all?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Places.”

Think Before You Yell

I once saw a young girl (maybe about seven years old) walk up and take a drink from an umpire’s water bottle. It struck me as strange, but a while later I saw her talking to him. That’s when I realized she’s his daughter.

I always cringed a bit when I heard fans yelling at officials, but this moment intensified that for me.

I’ll admit, I don’t always agree with an official’s calls. [Actually, I have vivid memories of chanting against high school basketball referees.] It’s good for officials to be held accountable, but I’ve learned to leave the arguing to the coaches.

Still, fans yell awful things at umpires. Seriously awful. And entirely inappropriate. No wonder their families don’t usually come to watch the games. But what if they did? What if that seven-year-old daughter is nearby?

It makes you wonder.

If nothing else, imagine this: Someone follows you to work and screams profanities at everything you do.

Does that sound a bit ridiculous? If so, I hope it puts things in perspective.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Imagine All the People.”

3 Things I’ve Learned Watching Baseball

  1. You have to look around.

It’s easy to get tunnel-vision at the ballpark. We get stuck in the rut of following the ball because we think the important things happen where the ball is. That’s where you see the best strikeouts, hits, and defensive plays. Besides, who is going to argue with the umpire’s strike zone if we aren’t watching the ball?! Heaven forbid he do his job without our input.

But have you ever looked around a baseball field? It’s beautiful. There’s a certain cadence to it. Watch the right fielder before the pitcher delivers the pitch. Or the third baseman. When there are runners on base, watch them as they learn to time the pitcher and find the perfect instant to burst into a full sprint. Watch the catcher and only the catcher for an entire at-bat. Watch the coach give signs like the conductor of an orchestra. Watching only the ball is the equivalent of listening to only a solo instrument in a complex classical composition.

It’s easy to get that same tunnel-vision in our lives. We look at what’s right in front of us, and we miss the rest. How much are we missing each day?

  1. Everyone loses sometimes.

Baseball teams play so many games that none get to go undefeated. This is especially true at the MLB level, and usually also true at the college level. Even those teams that get a lossless season? They lose again eventually. Winning streaks end, and upsets strike hard when the worst teams find ways to beat the best teams.

From baseball I’ve learned that no one is perfect and no one can be perfect. I’ve learned to accept losing. I’ve learned that losing does not make you a loser. It makes you stronger. This is an especially difficult lesson for a coach’s wife because, of course, my husband is happier when his team wins, and I prefer when my husband is happy.

But you learn to learn from your losses. To find ways to improve. You develop tenacity.

  1. Fighting for something is more effective than fighting against something.

Do you know what the best teams I’ve seen all have in common? It’s not just talent. The best teams fight for each other. They stand by their teammates, pick each other up when they’re down, and trust each other. For these teams, it isn’t about the opponent. In fact, it really does not matter who their opponent is on any given day. The reason they fight and their approach to the battle doesn’t change.

In the same way, people all over the world fight for causes they believe in. They stand up for justice and truth. In their fight for something, they can measure positive progress. Those who fight against something can only measure their progress through “wins,” but as I’ve already mentioned, everyone loses sometimes. Those who fight for something can withstand trials because of the cause they believe in. It’s for love and passion. These are much stronger than hatred.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “We Can Be Taught!.”