An Open Letter From the Coaches Wife….
I am the coaches wife, and have been for many years. We have seen so many players come and go,and cross through out paths – and each one of them, from those way back in 6U have had something to teach me and my husband. I have also seen and met all sorts of parents. Some seasons have been amazingly fun – the kind that you never want to end, while others have been stressful and trying for everyone involved.
This, perhaps is just the nature of youth athletics.
For me personally, I have learned over the years that it is sometimes best for me to take a seat away from the rest of my team parents, even though I crave to be involved in the conversations and fun and cheering that goes on during exciting games behind the home plate fence. When I sit there, I don’t have a partner all day with which I can bounce off ideas or enjoy just being a fan with.
But then there are ‘those games’ and anyone who knows softball knows what I am talking about – where everything seems to go wrong and people instantly start huffing and puffing and complaining and questioning and cursing and saying ugly things about the man I love – who is out there coaching OUR daughters.
And you know what, I know that he is not perfect. He is human. I do know that probably more solidly than you do. But still.
It can be painful.And it’s actually kind of rude.
You see, I know exactly what he gives up to be out there. I see him struggling over line ups, and him sitting at night with his furrowed brow trying to figure out how to bring out the best in these girls, looking up plays and new things online, trying to figure out pitching rotations. I see him spending more time with YOUR kids, then he does with his own at times. I am his partner who has to listen to his worries about the team, or the girls, and who has learned over the years that sometimes its better to drive myself to games because he is not always the funnest person to be around after long tournaments.
I have seen the many girls that he has had to foster players just to get them to show up at the game because their parents were not involved. I have watched him give up coaching credits, and pay for girls to play because he believed that the softball field was the best place for them to be. I have seen him buy a player cleats, a batbag and a glove. I see how he worries about your kid, and their confidence and is always second guessing whether he made the right decision in the heat of the moment or not. I see how much he appreciates and respects your girls, and how hard he tries to do right by them.
I see how hard my husband works all week long at his real job – and how tired he is, and how he still gets up at 5 am on his only days off to try to lead, to the best of his ability, this team of girls – that includes your daughter. I see his dedication. I am there when he questions himself about whether he is doing the right thing or not.
So yes, hearing you bash, negate, talk bad and accuse him of things – when you don’t always know the entire story of what goes on while you are sitting behind the fence in your fold up chair, is frustrating for me.
For a long time, I was in the dugout, and I was the one who heard your daughter silently tell us she didn’t want to play 3rd base, or the outfield – so we would let her sit out, only to be accused of horrific things later. And still today, those sweet girls often come to me to tell me the things that they are too afraid to tell you, because they don’t want you to be disappointed or mad at them because they actually WANT to play outfield or sit out a game.
In fact, your daughters tell the coach a lot of things, more than you can imagine, and sometimes when doing the best to make things right for them, you get mad at the coach. But no good coach would put your kid in the middle of that, so as typical – he takes the blame. And I take the ostracizing.
Truth is, sometimes he frustrates me too. It frustrates me that he is harder on daughter than yours, and that she has to come home to the ballgame long after everyone else has left it behind. Sometimes, I hate that she is not able to miss a practice because she is tired or has a ton of homework, because he is worried about it would look to the team. I have seen her lose friends along the way because of issues that don’t even concern her, yet she seems to bear the brunt of the punishment. I also feel the pressure on her, the eyes on her, the constant undertone that she is only playing where she is, or batting where she is, because she is the coaches daughter. And she, feels it to. And she is a little girl just like your little girl. I hate that she doesn’t really get a break, because she goes home with the coach who expects a whole heck of a lot from her.
I also know that when team funds run short, or a player doesn’t pay their share, or we are forced to get a pickup, or the team needs something – that it is my bank account that the money is withdrawn from – and sometimes we quite frankly cannot afford it. And yet, we have heard mumbles of being saying that coaches are ‘making money off their teams.’
I hear what you say when you frustrated about this person that I love. My daughter does too. And trust me, I know that when there is tension on the team – it will be me, a softball mom who just wants to watch her daughter play, that this tension will be taken out on. I have lost some very dear friends over some things that were completely out of my control. Maybe people don’t do it on purpose. But the whispers and the conversations behind my back, and overhearing some of the things I have heard over the years, sometimes simply because the team is losing – have taught me to keep my distance.
Sadly, all I really want is to sit with you and enjoy the game, the team.
The truth is, I know that when/if something goes wrong that I will be the first target. Maybe because I am the easiest, or the closest, which is precisely why I have chosen to sit away… And I know when people suddenly stop talking to me, especially those that I felt were my friends, that they are mad about something. And this hurts my feelings. My daughter knows too when your daughter has heard you talking about daddy ball, or her lack of talent, and her hopeful ‘friends’ and teammates take on an attitude with her that she doesn’t really deserve.
After all, she is just another girl who loves softball just like your daughter.
Yes, I do send out all the texts to try to keep the team informed about what is going on, and sometimes people do not even have the respect for me to answer.. I spend many hours each week gathering what the team needs, scheduling tournaments and fields and practices and figuring out money. I have a list of errands to do each week that include filling out rosters and buying needed supplies, and organizing whatever it is that needs to be organized, whether it be hotels, pick up players, etc. And its frustrating at times. And time-consuming, more so than you may think.
BUT HERE IS WHAT I DO NOT DO!
I don’t make the lineups. I don’t decide who plays on game days. I don’t decide where your daughter plays, and am not responsible for what happens at practice. I don’t know how or why those decision are made. In fact, in order to keep my marriage a happy one, I try NOT to talk about or give opinions about the team . I don’t make the decision whether to bat a kid 1st or 9th, nor do I decide whether she should sit out. I also have no input when it comes to whether she should stead 3rd, bunt instead of hit – or pitch the next game. I am not the one sending a runner and getting her thrown out. Like you, on game day – I dont know what kid has an attitude, what kid is not doing what was asked of them, and which ones are. I am not the coach.
Because on game day, I know absolutely NOTHING!
Just like you, I am just there with the hopefulness that the girls will have a great day on the field! I just want to sit back and watch them play, and laugh and have fun.