Each year in January, I become hyper aware of all the buzz around coaching changes in the many levels of Texas football. There is a saying I have in this life, “You never know where you will start your next season.” There are several ways this plays out from year to year. This year, these three ways impact us.
1. New season: one last go around
Even though you may not move, each season has a feel of its own and each team creates its own experiences while requiring something new of coach and of his family. This next season will be particularly difficult. Our oldest son is starting the beginning of his last season under my husband’s direction. Each first will the be the first-last and it is bittersweet. This year we will start as the parents of a senior player.
I have watched mom’s and dad’s in the stands for over ten years of the seniors each year. I always find it puzzling to think that they are so effected by the last football season of their son’s high school career. I just took for granted that we, as a family, would never run out of football seasons. How very close minded of me. I only considered my own location in the family. Obviously, I have never played football. All the gender normative arguments aside, I think that is okay. I’m not really a contact sport kind of person so I don’t feel left out by some patriarchal sporting structure. However, this has limited the way I see the importance of playing football. I can’t conceive of the difference between being on the field and being at the field for the game.
I watch my son prepare for his last season and I realize that playing football for him is much more than just a Friday night activity. He seems to be already processing the shortness of the time he has left. My husband is another story all together and I would need a whole blog post for that one. I would probably need to discuss my observations with Charlie before plastering them on the interwebs also.
In any case, this year will end with a Uhaul in front of the house. Our oldest son, Jade, will load it with his high school career and future plans and drive off to make a life. Of course, there will always be a room for him at home. Jade will come back at winter break and summer break and he will avoid us at spring break in hopes of making the week awesome in Mexico. None the less, this is a Uhaul season for us. It makes me remember the years of senior night and the glistening eyes of parents proud of their babies. I understand now, folks. Even though we will always have a football season in our home, we will only have one that is Jade’s senior season. Here’s to loading the Uhaul with tons of great memories.
2. The Annual Uhaul Report: wife perspective
As a seasoned coaching wife, I am accustomed to the angst of January and the annual Uhaul report on both Dave Campbell’s and The Old Coach. For those of you who are not aware, these are a couple of websites that cover Texas sports and pin a thread every fall of all the coaching changes in the state. It is worthy to note here that they don’t pay attention to other sports. These Uhaul reports are exclusively for athletic director or head football changes. Most of the time, those two positions are tied together.
These reports used to irritate me and cause so much anxiety every year, I would lose sleep. In my first three or four seasons, I would look at these reports, then research the coaches who were moving, find their records, their pedigrees and track who might be in line to take the job. I know, I know. It sounds crazy. It is crazy. But there is a method to my madness.
You see, coaches run in packs. When one coach leaves a program behind, he generally takes several coaches with him or recruits others to make the move from other programs. My research would always be preparation for the call, the packing and the move.
Last week I spoke with one of the young coaches on the staff here. His new wife and him are building a house. They are both very excited. She is more excited than him. He asked me how he might handle the move when it happened. I knew then that he hadn’t really prepared her for the possibility. I told him that he needed to be honest with her about the amount of moving involved in coaching; especially for ambitious coaches.
One thing I have always been both very grateful for and both very irritated with is Charlie’s honesty. He tells it like it is. When we were very newly married, he decided to go back to school and finish his degree to coach. He left a very stable job to do it. He gave me a list of warnings: coaching didn’t pay well, required lots of flexibility, the hours are long, your privacy is nonexistent, the highs are great and the lows are hell. He also gave me the good things: every year is a new start, you impact young lives, you never work with old people, we get to stay active, when its hell it will end, when its great there will be wonderful memories.
Our life depends on a web of connections that may take us ANYWHERE in the state. I’m pretty used to the possibility now. I can pack a 3200 sq ft house, load and unpack fully in 72 hours. The Uhaul report doesn’t stress me anymore. Especially, when its my son’s senior football season and he loves being where we are right now.
3. The Uhaul Report Strikes: saying goodbye
We had a great season. We made it to the state semifinals and made history in our town. Our offense was young and many of our senior players are now fielding offers from various schools. This is what we call “being hot” and it means that coaches who want to be head coaches and coordinators need to strike while they can. Getting an interview or job offer is easier when you come from a successful program. Right now, our athletic director is as respected as any in the state. I’m sure he will have to field some phone calls from programs who are losing their head coaches or athletic directors to other places.
One thing is sure, we will lose an assistant coach or two who are wanting to move up and gain new titles. Many coaches will move to coordinator spots after a good season as an assistant coach. When this happens, it is always bittersweet for the wives. I know that I will help the wife pack, our family will be there to help load the Uhaul and we will pray for their safe travel to their new place. I will send her with the recipe for victory ice cream and then add their new team to my “watch list” for the next season.
This is perhaps the hardest part of coaching. We develop new family connections among the staff who, like Jade, have a senior season and leave in a Uhaul packed with memories and future plans. I hope we don’t lose too many this year. I kind of like my little spot in life right now.
Moorea Coker teaches AP Literature and adjuncts at a Junior college in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @polypel88 or reach her by email: firstname.lastname@example.org