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Note: If you missed Part #1 of this series, click here or in the list of previous articles below.
Update: The following blog post was written about a week before posting. We’ve just learned that the St. John’s University head coach and the school have mutually agreed to part ways, which means we will be “parting ways” from the school as well. That doesn’t change the heart of the following message. We are in a much better place, emotionally and mentally, than we were four years ago and have true faith now that everything will turn out fine. This college coaching thing is a roller coaster of a lifestyle and we are looking forward to whatever this great adventure has in store for us next!
In May of 2011, luckily just a couple of months after being let go, Jim chose a job as an assistant coach at St. Louis University working for Rick Majerus, a well-respected long-time head coach Jim had known since attending Coach Majerus’ camp when Jim was 16 (and source of the “memorable” firing quote referenced in CL Post #1). Jim’s assistants all found excellent jobs.
Jim worked for SLU’s program for two years, helping take it to the NCAA Tournament both years. We loved St. Louis, the staff and players. We made great friends there, but soon were granted the opportunity for another adventure.
In 2013, Jim accepted a position working for friend and another legend of a coach, Steve Lavin, at St. John’s University in New York. (Yes, we love the Catholics!) The SJU team made the NCAA tourney this year and this assistant coaching thing, while intense and grueling, has also proved to be a pretty fun gig!
Neither of us had known what to expect when Jim was let go four years ago, but it truly did end up being one of the best things to happen for us.
He sleeps! He’s healthy! He is enjoying all that he is learning from accomplished head coaches and hopefully will have the opportunity to put that knowledge to use once again as a head coach. He has contributed to two teams of remarkable staffs and players that experienced phenomenal basketball seasons – 3 NCAA and 1 NIT Tournament appearances!
In 2011, I was 45 years old and finally moving away from home! I had started my consulting business with my business partner 11 years before and had an office in Chicago all of that time. That same year, I began incorporating business coaching into my consulting practice and had started a new business of coaching spouses of athletic coaches that was a natural outgrowth of my work and life experiences. In 2014, with the expiration of our office lease, my business partner and I closed up shop in Chicago and now, as almost all of my coaching is conducted by phone or Skype, I am able to do all of that work and much of my consulting work remotely from our home.
I found a new passion! There were beautiful nature centers, conservation areas, and parks in the St. Louis area, so I began hiking at a new location almost every weekend. Once we moved to New York, Meetup.com helped me find more hiking groups in this area. We now live two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean and walking the beach, even in the dead of winter, feeds my soul. I’ve made new friends – in our new neighborhoods, through hiking groups, and by joining local business networking groups. With travel being so easy, it has been no problem at all to stay in touch with old friends and family.
I’ve also become an expert “mover”, having lived now in four different homes in four years. Most of our belongings, at this point, are housed in a 30’ by 10’ storage unit while we enjoy our fully-furnished beach house. Frankly, I’d like to leave most of it there and keep enjoy this feeling of lightness and freedom.
Best of all – For us:
Our relationship has never been better. Amazingly, this was the first real challenge in our time together. It got us talking – really talking – about the important things in life. We appreciate our time together more than ever. I feel a solidity there that I hadn’t missed before, but that I am so grateful to be feeling now. We have embraced these moves as part of our Whitesell Adventure (with our two pups) and look forward to whatever life has to bring next.
My point in telling this story is two-fold.
- Perhaps some of you are going through a similar experience of having a spouse let go from an athletic position. I hope that is not the case, but the reality of this business makes me think differently. When people tell you that “when one door closes, another opens” and you want to sock them in the face because it doesn’t feel like that AT ALL, take it from someone who has had the experience, it really is true. Wherever life takes you or however long it takes, things really do work out in the end. There is ALWAYS a second door.
- The athletic coaching lifestyle has many high highs and low lows. It is extremely important to find a balance – for us as individuals, together with our partners in this relationship, and, for those with children, for your families.
We will get into those more in Championship Life Series Post #3, but in the meanwhile, please share your own experiences in the comments section below.
Has your athletic player/coach spouse been let go? How have you and your family handled it? What outcomes resulted?