the Coach's Wife

Monday, February 10, 2014

We have made it to the last game of our daddy's very first season as varsity boy's basketball coach at Valley.  It has been a learning experience and adjustment period for our whole family over the course of these last few months.  When B took the job this past summer, we were so excited.  Lots of people congratulated us, more told us we were crazy, and a few gave us a sarcastic 'good luck!' We knew to expect long winter days while Dad put in a full day at work and then the rest of his evening at practice or a game.  But there were lots of unexpected surprises that came with the season too.

This was the first year in five years of marriage that we had to set up a fake Christmas tree because we just could not squeeze in the time to go get a real one between work, practice, and games.  We daily adjusted dinner time, and bedtime so that we could eat together as a family.  Over the months of basketball season, I spent two to three evenings a week, wrestling my preschooler and toddler head to toe in winter gear and getting all of us in the truck to drive to home and away games, at least 20 minutes away.

Our kids learned lots of new things.  Like how to stand silently and respectfully for the National Anthem - which is now sung before nearly every time we play basketball at home.  We learned how to wait patiently until the game is over before we get to talk to Daddy and how to find ways to entertain ourselves during 32+ minutes of game time.  Greyson learned new words and phrases like; foul shot, box out, hustle, and 'Drain It!'  Gemmi happily shouts out 'Go Blue Jays!' and copies the cheerleaders' hand motions.

There were moments that will be held in my memory as 'Daddy's first Coaching season.'  Like, after the first win, when the kids and I picked up Chinese take-out and surprised Daddy with a late night celebration when he got home.  Like the several actual fights with Grey about letting me wash his 'basketball clothes' after he wore them for four days in a row (not even wanting to take them off for bed).  At the Portage away game when the kids put on a legit dance presentation at half time.  It was being the very last people to leave the gym at home games; walking the length of the parking lot to brush off our car and praying the kids would fall asleep on the ride home.  It was the feeling of relief at the sight of family and friends in the stands when arriving to the games with my two gremlins.  (thank you so much Gigi, Pappy, Mimi, Abba, Chum, Uch, Rebecca Hagerich, Jordan Heider, Stacy, Corey & Lila Stahl, Uncle Juice, Jonny, Ninna, Kuma, Morgan, Ricky & Wendy Stahl, Barb & Jess Verno, Beth Furman, and Paula & Maddie McCleester for spending time with my kids during basketball season).

Although, the biggest lesson we learned this first basketball season is that this is not just something that Daddy does.  Caring about the Blue Jays is serious family business.  We eat, talk, and sleep basketball.

Most of the conversations I have with my husband are about his team, upcoming games, strategies, and issues.  I hear him laugh about the funny, immature jokes his players tell at practice and see the to-the-bone-marrow pride when he speaks about the team.  I know the players' names, knicknames, and tendencies; who has surprised him, who has inspired him to work harder and see things from a new angle, who has changed over the course of the season.  There is a light in him that comes from being with his team and assistant coach that wasn't there before, and for that, I am deeply grateful to the Blue Jays.

photo credit:  Christa Statler
It's a funny thing to be on this side of athletics.  Brandon and I have been athletes all the way from childhood to college.  We know what it is like to be a player; to stand again after a brutal loss, to be filled up with hot pride at a victory hard won.  We are both quick to point to sports as being a main contributor to the way we do things as adults.  How we bounce back from disappointments, how we recognize an opportunity to learn, how we cheer on colleagues and friends - as we know a win for them, is in turn a win for us as well.  This is the stuff of character building.  So it is no surprise (least of all to me), that my husband takes this very seriously.

photo credit:  Christa Statler
The only information that I can offer about my husband's daily coaching choices is this:  my husband is invested in each of his players. That's it; he is invested.  He cares about the W, but more than that, he cares about  the men his players will be in five years; in ten years.  He's coaching them to get back up from a 60 point loss (the first game of the season) and try again.  He wants them to later in life be able to push all the way to the end even if you're down and fans start leaving the gym early, because you know what - you can win in overtime (Meyersdale game).  He wants for them to make the connection that the way they interact and speak to their teammates, the refs, the other coaches, the fans, and their teachers is a reflection of not only of themselves but everyone associated with them; their family, their teammates, their coach, their community.  It is more than basketball.  It has always been more than basketball to him.

Before taking the job, someone trying to dissuade him said, 'Remember, you have two little ones of your own at home to guide too.'  What that person may not have realized is that my kids get the privilege of seeing first hand what it means to follow a dream.  That there may almost never be a 'good time' in life to take on a challenge, but if you care enough about it - you can find a way to make it work.

photo credit: Christa Statler
And even more; something I see so clearly now, my two kids spend their days talking about and trying to emulate an entire team worth of teenagers that they may not have known otherwise.  If these boys, The Blue Jays, are the role models that my children try to copy - then I am considering myself a very lucky mother.

Good luck tonight, fellas.  You will always be considered part of our Blue Jay family.

photo credit:  Christa Statler
the coach's wife.


  1. Bravo Studer Family!!!!

    Lots of love!!

  2. Beautiful, Tabitha! You and Coach B are awesome. I can't wait until Tre` Butts moves up!

  3. what a lucky man your husband is to have such a supportive wife in you! and what a wonderful momma your sweet babes have! Again today, I'm blessed by your words.

  4. This was so beautiful! I love how you are embracing what you could see as a family time-suck, and acknowledging that it's a great opportunity for Brandon, and for your kids to learn from him and his team. What an amazing wife you are!!!