Becoming a college coach at such a young age is something that he looks at as a blessing and challenge at the same time. The challenge being that he never got the chance to have a mentor; he never got to watch someone else navigate this career and lifestyle. So, we do feel like we have learned most of what we know from the school of hard knocks.
What makes our story unique? Let’s go back to before our days at CCC. I have always loved all sports and competition of any kind. I ended up choosing rodeo as my collegiate sport and had coached during my last year of graduate school. Growing up, I played any sport I got the chance at except any game that involved a bat and a ball. I didn’t have much respect or appreciation for the game of baseball.
Funny thing was, during grad school in Alabama, the baseball field was right across from the rodeo arena. I gave the baseball coach’s daughter riding lessons, and they were bound and determined that I was going to learn about the game.
Fast forward to Colby, and although it wasn’t love at first sight for either of us, as Ryan and I got to know each other, we quickly became friends. But still, if I was going to pick a sport to be a huge part my life, baseball wasn’t at the top of the list. However, God had other plans. And as God often works, it was in an unexpected way and his blessings have overwhelmed us.
As we look back on our lives, God’s hand on every step of the journey is overwhelmingly evident and never ceases to amaze us. In the beginning, figuring out how to balance baseball and a relationship wasn’t easy for Ryan. I had not been in any hurry to get married, but I had spent many years (as my parent’s did too) praying for my spouse that God one day would bring into my life. I could share at length about that as well, but for the sake of time, let’s just say God answers prayers and has a sense of humor while doing it!
One of the “qualities” that I prayed for was for my husband to be passionate about what he did – not just go through the motions everyday. Oh boy, did He hit the nail on the head there in choosing Ryan. There was a time that someone close to me had to remind me that what I was being “challenged” by was exactly what I begged God for! Be careful what you pray for.
Fast forward again. We have now been married for 12 years. Ryan has been coaching for 17 seasons (wow, how time flies!); I have taught college students for 15 years; and we have two beautiful girls.
To sum it up, he was coaching when I met him, and I had come from a sport that consumed my life and took most every weekend. So, although we came from different worlds, they were very similar in odd ways. God had been “grooming” me for this for quite some time. It was my heart’s desire, yet at the same time, I wouldn’t have called it that, nor did I recognize it in the beginning.
God is our glue. Establish your priorities together and work to keep them in the right order. You must be intentional in this, and at times even fight to keep them right. Find people who will help you hold yourselves accountable and hold each other accountable. If you ask Ryan’s players, they can tell you what his priorities (as well as our family’s) are.
Ryan and I have learned to determine together what seasons or months during the year are most difficult for us, and we have started to protect those months in advance. I have found that I have to carefully examine every “yes” to a commitment during certain times of the year. I also try to plan for times of refreshment. For us, fall and spring are the worst. August through October means fall ball games and practice runs late. Although it isn’t officially the season, it is every bit as demanding on his time. When August hits, both of our jobs become demanding. He has baseball every weekend, and at least one day during the week. The girls still have a lot going in their schedule too with after school activities and fall barrel racing series on the weekends. We go hard, and I often wish that it would get dark sooner so we all would be forced to be in the house earlier.
Typically, just when I think we have reached our limit… winter comes. Ahhh, I love winter! The cold forces us indoors and gives us more family time in the evenings! Coach has team weights after supper, but now the girls enjoy going too, so this season of life has them joining in with the team.
Then February creeps in, and once Opening Day arrives, our world spins faster than it will all year. For the next five months, I have to weigh priorities and give my “best yes” among the girls’ schedule, my classes, family commitments, and the list goes on. My “best yes” has really helped me and has become a big part of scheduling defensively.
Seasons of life…
The balancing act seems to change with the different “seasons of life.” With each new season, as a wife and mother, I find new lessons learned and the juggling act morphs.
First, it was the baseball widow adjustment. I was very independent and had plenty to fill my time with while Ryan had practice and games. I enjoyed the freedom of traveling to games and supporting him, while at the same time keeping busy myself competing with my horses.
Sundays at church were my hardest time during that season of life. It was lonely in the pew. I remember the first baseball season married to Ryan, the end of May was his first Sunday back at church with me, and the older woman who greeted at the front door expressed over and over how excited she was to see BOTH of us at church TOGETHER! Later, an older friend of ours at the church told me he had to explain to her that we weren’t having marriage problems as she initially assumed seeing me by myself every Sunday, but rather that I was a coach’s widow and what that meant.
Little did I know that it was about to get harder than going to church alone when I soon had an infant and eventually an infant and a toddler in tow. I refer to it as the “single mother” season as a CW. When our girls were in the infant-toddler stage, it was sometimes tiring and lonely. The weekends were long and sometimes lonely. It was such a fun age, yet so demanding and sometimes challenging. The girls’ needs were high and sometimes I just felt like I was just surviving.
We took in quite a few weekend series games during that season of life, but weather conditions and traveling added an element of challenge. I watched many games from my van while the kids played in the back, and I could write extensively about traveling alone with young children – how to entertain them through 18 innings of baseball and even the occasional rain delay at a hotel.
Now, our girls have so much going. They are 9 and 7. No time to think; we are going all the time. Their activities demand my energy and attention, and I love every minute. I often wonder if I can be all things at all places needed, but by God’s grace, we figure it out.
The Trojan’s are their team, their “guys.” They love going to games and being in the middle of it all. Whether it is dragging the field, working the concession stand, or a crying at the end of the game “because we lost,” they are all in. Just recently, after a disappointing season, our oldest emotionally asked, “are you going to quit coaching, because I just don’t want you to quit.” Dad reminded her that just because things get hard and don’t go as planned, it isn’t a reason to quit.
Now I realize that as the seasons of life change, so do the rewards and demands. I am learning to embrace each season with its challenges and joys. And these seasons of life change more quickly than I would actually prefer, so God is showing me that I will never “figure it out,” and I have to rely on Him because I sure can’t do it on my own! I have promised though that no matter how hard it seems at times, I will enjoy this journey!
This is so much more than a game with wins and losses; it’s really all about relationships and watching boys become young men. And in the process, our family principles have also become team principles. I am sure there are other “life callings” that we could accomplish this through, but I sure wouldn’t choose it any other way! Our girls would tell you the same thing!
Another piece I wouldn’t trade is seeing our children buy in and knowing they are learning so much about life. Their character and personalities are being influenced every day as a coach’s kid…
Our youngest daughter’s favorite color, “Trojan Blue.” Show ‘n’ tell, Coach’s helmet. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that they feel very much part of the team. They watch their dad and our family walk out the calling that God has placed on our family. Through it all – from celebrations to heart aches – we learn more about each other, more about life, and grow closer to God.
Lastly, the passion my husband shows and the influence he has on the boys makes this life as a coach’s wife worth living. Ryan is amazing at what he does. I get so much enjoyment from watching people do what God created them to do, and Ryan is doing just that. I wouldn’t trade seeing the influence and impact he has for anything.