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I’ve put off writing this post for a while. Probably because it’s not fitness or kid related and it will cause me to shed some (more) tears. No, nobody died and no one was completely abandoned in the making of this story. I realize that football coaching isn’t the only profession or lifestyle that involves moving. I don’t claim to have it worse that other people – but I do think it’s an aspect of the football life that a lot of outsiders don’t pay much thought to.
College football coaching (and NFL, and other college sports) is a high turnover business. When you “sign-up” for the football wife life (aka – marriage vows!), it’s best if you are prepared for moving every few years. Sometime’s it’s the coach’s decision (gotta move up in the world!) to leave a team, and sometimes we don’t have a choice. Coaches get fired ALLTHETIME, head coaches leave or retire – there are all sorts of reasons that might spur a move (usually in the middle of winter/Christmas/school year/most likely pregnancy or newborn stages….yaddayaddayadda).
Ok – so I’m as prepared as I can be for moving. I keep boxes like a freak and I pretty much am on continual decluttering mode just in case. But what no one tells you about when you’re starting the football wife journey – is that you’ll also get left. Sometimes it won’t be YOUR husband who gets the new job. And let me tell you – it’s WAY harder to be left than it is to leave.
I have been blessed with meeting some amazing friends on this football life journey so far. There is something about the camaraderie that comes with sports, busy husbands and being uprooted a lot that brings strong women together. At our last stop, I grew to be amazing friends (and RUNNING BUDDIES!) with a fellow coach’s wife, Jamie. We were neighbors and got to be really close in my first year living there. Sure enough, about a year after I moved in, they moved out – across the country no less! My second season there was so different, without her to sit with at games, meet for 5am runs and text complaining about our husband’s crazy schedules!
Our turn came the next year and we were the ones to leave – clear down to South Texas where we’ve been for the past year. I met Michele just before the season began last year and we instantly clicked. We both had moved from Colorado and while we were totally in different life stages (she has middle school and college aged kids!), her family quickly became my own. Not only was she a stellar tailgating buddy, she was a MASSIVE help with Miss Mak. I seriously left every game so thankful for her help and friendship. We went on to spend holidays together (football families often become surrogate families when you don’t get to live near your own!) and Miss Mak grew to love her as much as I did. I had a sinking feeling in my gut about them leaving. I just had a feeling that someone I loved so much just couldn’t possibly stay here as long as I wanted her to. I prayed that we’d have similar timelines here. When I got pregnant with #2, her first response was that she’d take care of Miss Mak at the games next year while I dealt with the newborn. THANK GOD! A few short months later my husband came home to tell me that her husband had accepted a job and they’d be moving at the end of the school year. I should have been prepared, it should get easier, but you guys, it doesn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m SO EXCITED for Michele and her family. Her husband had an amazing opportunity and they are now living and working somewhere they love. But that doesn’t make being left behind any easier. Every time we drive by their neighborhood Miss Mak asks about “Shell”. And every time I think about tackling football games this season by myself I just stop thinking about it. I just can’t. I know, I know, it will all be ok. Each season will have it’s blessings and challenges, but let me tell you…she will be missed.
We are just at the beginning of this coaching/football life journey, and I know that I will have to leave more friends behind, and that I will get left again. It would be really easy in this life to put your guard up and never become close, to avoid those tear-filled goodbyes. But you guys, the friendships are worth the tears. I hope I never stop sharing my life with these amazing women and families. And I hope that one day I can be the blessing/helper/friend to a young mom that Michele was to me.
As a goodbye gift, Michele game me this necklace. It’s the perfect reminder for me of her, and of the attitude I want to have in this football life.
So, fellow sports wives, this post goes out to you. Whether you’re leaving someone behind or you’re the one being left: May you keep on smiling, may you keep on loving, and may you keep on making friends. And to Michele, thank you for all of your love and support, and for sharing so much of your wisdom as a seasoned coach’s wife. WE LOVE YOU!