WRITE TEAM: Once a coach, always a coach

On Dec. 29, the IESA paused all activities, which means boys basketball and girls volleyball, set to start in the next couple of weeks, will be delayed. As of Jan 4,the IHSA has not announced when or if these sports will start. This news was not totally unexpected, yet it is one more discouraging event for not only our kids but also the coaches.

This announcement made me think back to two years ago when my husband Bob was a high school track and cross country coach, plus a full-time teacher. The work that went into the season started months prior and I thought about the adjustments having to be made not only for the kids but also the coaches.

I felt so much pride of his coaching. It was fun getting to know the team and to see how they looked up to him. With Bob it was not just about winning or losing it was about making a permanent impact in the character of our kids. By not participating I ask myself how much of that will be missed if canceled?

If you are a coach’s spouse, you need to brace yourself for a major life shift. For me it began in February and lasted to early November, outside of a week or two during the summer. It is a yearlong commitment. Scheduled practices, individual workouts, managing invites, informing the media of results, award night, state meets, sending out college references is just the start of what is expected. What a coach tells his family is the same thing he tells his athletes. When you commit to join a team, you are a valuable part of that team a piece that can not be replaced or go missing.

If you have a child who plays sports remember that the coach is not just a coach, he has a family who misses him. Coaching does not end when he gets home. He is focused on the next meet or practice. He thinks about what decisions he could have made differently. He goes to bed thinking about your child.

A successful coach needs more than knowledge. He is a master of strong leadership; he is filled with empathy when your child is disappointed but knows how to turn empathy into encouragement. He can delegate and at times he has a listening ear when your child may need someone to talk to.

It has not ended when Bob passed the wand to a new coach. Bob continues to follow those who have gone onto play in college. We have attended weddings and celebrated with them as they build their families. Bob even continues to correspond with a foreign exchange student from Spain during this pandemic.

Being the wife of a coach has not ended because of retirement. I have to say if your spouse is a coach you should be immensely proud to say, " I am married to a coach.” Once a coach always a coach. It was not any team it was Bob’s team. I hope for my grandchildren that sooner than later they will be able to work with their coach and experience everything a coach has to offer.

Chris Compton is a recently retired multimedia broadcast sales executive living in Princeton. She can be reached at tsloup@shawmedia.com