Last year I wrote the post It’s Football Season–Hug a Coach’s Wife. At last check it had almost 200,000 Facebook shares! I never expected it would touch so many coaching families, but I guess sometimes we just need to know someone out there, even if it’s in internet land, gets us. Coaches’ wives have a unique gig for sure, but so do the coaches’ kids.
My oldest son started Kindergarten this year and his thoughtful teacher sent home a form for me to fill out so she could get to know him. The last question was open ended, Is there anything else you would like me to know about your child? Yes, yes, there is. Thank you for asking. I wanted her to know that he is a year round coach’s kid (on top of freshman and varsity football, my husband is also the head baseball coach.) Fall is especially busy for us since the baseball team has fall ball games during the week too, on top of Thursday and Friday night games and Saturday film. Needless to say, fall is intense for everyone in our family and those days of not seeing Daddy take an emotional toll on our little guy. I warned his teacher that our usually happy school-goer may have some weepy mornings at drop off. It might be because he’s been holding back tears ever since he woke up and realized Daddy had already left for work and he didn’t get to hug him goodbye on game day. Or it might be because we were out late last night for ANOTHER game and he’s just tired.
Coaches’ kids can catch some flack for running amuck on the field or getting “special treatment” if they are a player, but as you attend football games this year to cheer on your athlete, consider the extra sacrifices the coaches’ kids make for the team and the unique childhood they have for the sake of the game.
9 Reasons to High Five a Coach’s Kid
- They Miss Dad
I asked my six year old what his least favorite part about being a coach’s kid is. As I expected, with a lump in his throat he answered, “Not seeing Daddy very much.” You might not realize it, but most coaching staffs work seven days a week. There is a whole lot of planning and film breakdown that happens outside of practice, not to mention scouting on bi-weeks and Saturday games. Our family only recently got out of Sunday game planning duties when my husband became the head baseball coach, but we did it for years, and saying goodbye to Dad seven days a week from August to November is a real bummer. Dads miss dinner most week nights, watching their daughters cheer at the Saturday morning little league games, family lunch at Nana’s on Sundays, their son’s middle school football games on Thursdays, and awards assemblies and concerts. Unless they’re in those golden years of being the ball boy or playing on Dad’s team, coaches’ kids sit through a 2-3 hour football game that started at their bedtime just to get those five minutes of pure bliss running out to get a hug on the field from their favorite guy before he loads up onto the bus with his team. Grown coaches’ kids tell me those stolen moments before and after the games add up to a collection of wonderful memories, but in the midst of it, it often doesn’t feel like enough.
- They Live Part-time at The Field
You might see a few coaches’ kids running around on the sidelines or on the field during warm-ups. Why can’t they sit in the stands like the other kids, you might wonder. It’s distracting to your child’s coach, you might worry. That field where your child is playing one night a week for this one (or four) year, is where that girl or boy’s Daddy is every Thursday and Friday night for his whole life. The stadium is his second home and that field is his backyard. They aren’t acting like they own the school or they don’t have to abide by the rules like every other kid, they just want to be near their dad, because…see #1.
- They Value Family
Coaches’ kids are awesome because they learn the value of time spent with family and how to make it a priority. On the Wednesdays that we don’t have fall ball, my six year old works hard to get his chores and homework done by 5:00 because it’s the rare night that Dad is home at a decent hour which means there will be time for catch in the backyard or a walk to the park. He knows they won’t get another chance to play together until Saturday afternoon, so they pack a lot of quality time into the little time they have together. One grown coach’s kid said she used to wait up for her dad after game nights and watch the film with him just to squeeze a little one-on-one time in during the season. A kid that values spending time with their family is a kid well deserving of a high five!
- They Love Their Community
Coaches’ kids learn to be a part of a community early on and then throughout their whole childhood. From the time they are toddlers, they connect that they belong with the people wearing blue (or red, or green…) They belong to the team and they belong to the coaching families. We coaching families need each other to lean on during the season and the kids need one another too. Coaching families carpool to games, they take turns feeding the coaches on Sundays, they sit together in the stands, when the crowd gets negative, they drown them out with cheers of encouragement. When the dads scout on a Saturday night, they call each other to hang out. Coaches’ kids learn both how to lean on community and how to be there for others. They learn that communities cheer each other on, communities stand together, communities show up rain or shine for each other. And when they have to pick up and move to a new town, they learn how to find their place in a new community quickly.
- They Roll With the Punches
“When will Daddy be home?” “I think around 7:00, but no promises.” No promises. It’s the nature of coaching. The only thing you can count on is that you can’t count on anything. Schedules will change, practices will run long, weather will delay games, contracts will end. Coaching families learn to roll with the punches. I’m a planner and my oldest does best on a schedule, so the unpredictability of this life has thrown us for a loop more than once. He and I both have had to learn together how to hold our plans a little looser and it has made life for our whole family a lot more fun. Instead of getting upset, we make the best of last minute changes.
- They Get a Lifetime of Hard Lessons
You’ll be hard pressed to find a coddled coaches’ kid. Their lives are full of the good kind of hard lessons that teach them about hard work, disappointment, and sacrifice…the things you put your kids in sports to learn. Dad can’t make it to your game? Yeah, that’s tough. He’s got to work tonight so we can eat. The ref made a terrible call and our team lost? Yeah, that’s tough. Sometimes life doesn’t go our way. You can’t go to your friend’s house because Dad’s team is in the playoffs? Yeah, that’s tough. But in our family, we are always there for each other. Dad was harder on you in practice than anyone else? Yeah, that’s tough, but he believes in your abilities to do more than you offered today. You can prove him wrong or you can rise to the occasion. Dad warned the football team that his baby girl was off limits and now you’ll be alone forever? Yeah, that’s tough…but exactly why I love your Dad. You’ll get it one day.
- They Have to Work Harder
“He’s just playing because he’s the coach’s kid.” You know you’ve heard it and you even might have said it, but let me assure you that 99% of the time the coach’s kid had to earn that spot by working harder than every other kid out there. Ask any coach, or their kid, and they will tell you they are hardest on their own kids. Getting extra scrutiny over playing time unfortunately comes with “the coach’s kid” title, but that title also comes with being around the sport since they were an infant. There is a good chance that they may be better because they’ve grown up around it and they’ve essentially had backyard private lessons with a coach from childhood. Is it an advantage? Sure, so is being 6’2″, but it’s not special treatment to play the best kid for the position. It’s actually the definition of fair. If your dad is a paleontologist, you’re probably going to have an advantage in geology, but would you expect a teacher to not give them an A because that’s not fair to the other kids who are just now learning geology? Of course not. (But a caveat to this is that not every coach’s kid is a good athlete or even likes sports. That’s totally cool too! We almost named my son Easton, but I nixed it because I worried he would feel too much pressure to be a baseball star with a name like Easton and a baseball coaching dad. Coaches’ kids are dynamic and unique human beings just like the rest of us.)
- They Hear Everything You Hear in the Stands
Yes, even the suggestions on where their dad can put the football. Seriously people, there are children at these events, and some of those children just so happen to love the coaches very much. It takes a lot of self-control for a child to listen to people hurl insults at their dad and not turn around and hurl something back at them. If it is you yelling insults at a school event, please consider anger management classes. If you were simply an observing bystander, give the coaches’ kids a pat on the back and say something positive about their dad to offset it. There is always something kind to say. Always.
- They Take Pride in Being the Coach’s Kid
It comes with it’s many hardships, but they love getting to run out on the field after the game and get that big hug from Dad, win or loss. They love that the cheerleaders know them and pull them on the track or gym floor during a pep rally to dance with them. When the football players toss the ball with them, it pretty much makes their night. Even our two year old daughter is starting to love this life of ours. She asks each morning what kind of game we are going to. “Daddy work ‘day?” “Yes, daddy’s at work.” “We go to bay-ball game?” “No, not baseball.” “Bootball?” “Yep, we go to Daddy’s football game tonight.” “Yay, bootball!” My son loves when he gets to go to the field house with Dad after school and he is itching for the day when he gets to ride the bus to away games. Despite the many long hours away, especially when they are little, having a dad as a coach can add up to a lot of fun hours spent together. They love their dads and their place on the team as the coach’s kid.
If you see a coach’s kid this fall, give him or her a high five (and don’t forget to hug their mom too!)
P.S. As a football coach’s wife, I wrote this with football coach’s kids in mind, but don’t forget to high five the kids of the band director, trainers, cheer and drill team sponsors, and all the coaches’ kids of other sports that make up high school athletics. Until you’re in it, you never realize all the sacrifice that goes into high school sports. High fives all around!