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Multigenerational Mom Muses on Twin Toddlers & Twenty-Something Daughters

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Seasons Come, Seasons Go, but Football Family Remains

Our football season ended Friday night with a loss in the quarterfinals — in the last minute and a half. It was a heartbreaker. But there are no losers on this team.

The seniors have a four year record of 52-3. That’s a heckuva lot of wins. But the real wins aren’t what’s translated in the record books. The real wins are what’s translated in the boys’ hearts.

And boy, do these players have heart.

The love they shared on the field Friday and on hudl messages and tweets — it showcases the love they have forged through the highs and lows of this and every season they’ve played together.

You hear a lot about how football hardens bodies and builds work ethic.

But football also softens hearts. And breaks them. And Friday night’s loss broke so many hearts, including mine.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Because hearts that soften and hearts that break are hearts that feel and hearts that connect. And to me, the most powerful part of football is how it takes individuals and makes them not just teammates — which you hear a lot about — but more importantly family.

And this team is truly a family.

And the men showing these boys how to harden those muscles and hone their work ethic are also the ones showing them how to soften their hearts — to let in their feelings and let out their emotions.

These coaches are not afraid to yell at their players. Not in the least. But they also aren’t afraid to say “I love you” to the boys — and mean it.

And this weekend, I heard a whole bunch of hurting coaches tell their hurting players “I love you.” And I saw a whole lot of hurting players tell each other “I love you.”

I saw a lot of players huddled up, shoulder pad to shoulder pad with tears bunched up in eyes and streaming down cheeks. 

Tears over loss, but also tears over love.

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These boys are becoming men. The best sort of men. The men who aren’t afraid to fight hard yes, but to love hard too. Men who can lead through both triumph and adversity. And Friday night, they triumphed through their adversity and led one another — and the rest of us — through the first stages of grief.

And while we all grieve over this loss, it was ultimately just a game that we lost. And we have so much to be thankful for. And so many harder things we could be grieving…

Last weekend, a football coach in Indiana passed away after suffering a stroke in a playoff game.

Coach Bowsman had coached in his community for 20 years. He was head coach for the past 16. Through two decades of love and sacrifice, he built a football family that is now mourning a deep, true, and profound loss.

And this past week, Coach Bowsman continued his life of sacrifice through organ donation. On Wednesday, his football family lined the hospital hallways for an Honor Walk as he traveled one last time from ICU to the OR. And over the weekend, his football community (and nearly the entire state) burned stadium lights in his honor as his family held services and laid his body to rest.

Football goes so much farther than a win/loss record or memories of the glory days.

Football leaves a lasting impact far greater than most can imagine until we see and hear stories like these.

Those of us fortunate enough to be in a football family, we feel the impact of football on our lives all the time… in the form of a hug in the hallway, or a greeting in a grocery store, in the graduation celebrations of a struggling student athlete, or a text from a former player about the birth of a baby or the death of a parent. And sometimes you get a message about the death of a football family member. 

When you are football family, the impact rarely goes unfelt.

And while we feel all the literal wins and losses, it’s the wins and losses in LIFE we feel most profoundly. 

Football itself is ultimately just a game. But the family it builds… that’s real. And that’s what makes the game so very special.

Photo Creds: Russell Andrews, Marion Mills Webb, Randy Parker & Natalie Perkins

A Gridiron Gathering for Playoffsgiving

It’s Thanksgiving week — a week for gratitude and gatherings, and in our house, a week of five family events full of food. Five. And of those five, three are packed to overflowing with our football family.

And for that, I am so very thankful.

#1– because I love them.

And #2– because that means we’re still in the playoffs — Round 3, the quarterfinals.

Today, we hosted a roster-load of boys for lunch after practice — my husband’s position players and the ones I’ve taught in my classroom. It’s becoming a Thanksgiving tradition.

My heart bursts with love and pride for these boys and the program that guides and goads them through the myriad sacrifices football demands. These boys are called to this sport. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t do it. It’s just too tough, too grueling.

But these players have embraced the grind. And I’m thankful they have because they make my life so much fuller and richer as a result.

Pouring some love into them by way of lasagna is my attempt to give back to these hard-working, hard-fighting boys. They’re honestly some of my favorite humans in all the world.

Some are dark-skinned and some are light-skinned, some are freckled and some are fair. Some have mullets, others buzz cuts; some have high fades, others ‘fros.

A few drive pickups, a couple, clunkers, a good many catch rides from the rest. They are random parts offense, mostly-parts defense, and a couple parts playing both ways.

They come from all walks of life and from all parts of town… and they’ve all taken up residence in my heart.

Today, this mixed crew of kiddos sang karaoke in our basement, shot some really bad pool, played backyard football, and consumed three entire lasagnas, six loaves of garlic bread, four dozen chocolate chip cookies, a pan-and-a-half of red velvet brownies, and 64 bottled waters. Oh, and two —count them, TWO — ate some salad. (Their mothers are insanely proud right now.)

These boys have big appetites and big dreams.

And I see every last one of them scoring those dreams. I really do. Because they work harder at life than I ever dreamed of working at their age.

They’re something special. Like, really special.

And there’s nothing more satisfying for me as a mom, teacher, and coach’s wife than seeing a bunch of really big boys I love dearly fill up their plates and fill up their bellies.

It fills up my heart to overflowing.

Game-Winning Tooth Down: The Signs and Sacrifices of Football

Now, I’m not superstitious. As Michael Scott says, “I’m just a little stitious.” Signs are my big thing. I see them everywhere.

Some people roll their eyes at me, but me, I’m a believer. And Friday, all the signs pointed toward a big win for our Canes. All because Parker lost his first tooth. On the football field. That’s a significant milestone met on a significant influence in our family’s lives. No way I was missing that sign.

It all went down during a Cartersville Primary School pep rally. The Senior football players, cheerleaders, and band spent their first and second periods playing with the littlest Canes, fostering that Hurricane heritage of family and pride we love so much. Our community is something special, for sure.

Parker no doubt got so caught up in spending time with his favorite football players that he didn’t even notice his tooth — the wiggly worm on a line one he’d been so proud of — slipped from that line during some random scuffle. Never to be seen again.

At some point, Partker noticed he’d “scratched his lip” and went to tell the teacher his mouth was bleeding. That’s when the discovery was made. Try as they might, nobody could find that tooth. Nobody. It was a little tribute offered up to the football gods, I guess. And I was all about it.

He left it all on the field, just like the big boys were going to do that night. But more on that in a minute…

After a little trip to the nurse for a tooth fairy necklace — where an explanatory note instead of an incisor was gently tucked inside — Parker was sent on his way. When I picked him up that afternoon, he proudly displayed the necklace and the gap along his gums.

Cue game night and the toughest game of our Canes’ season to date: Cartersville vs Sandy Creek. Both teams were undefeated and several “experts” picked against us for an upset.

Not so the football gods. And not so, our fellas.

Our coaches put one particularly cocky pair of internet know-it-alls on permanent loop in the locker room and our boys fed off it. “Sandy Creek by 30,” said the naysayers. “Bank on it,” they barked.

Our boys are Hurricanes. Hurricanes are fueled by atmospheric conditions. We grew stronger and harder with each successive loop. The players sucked those words into their storm force and rolled with it. Their vision was clear. Their eye on the prize.

Out above the gridiron, the sky was brandishing a hurricane warning in purple and pink, with a hint of gold. Purple and gold are our school colors and Friday was our annual Pink-Out night. I could clearly read my second sign of the day.

The football gods were smiling in our favor. They appreciated the physical sacrifice of our players and coaches up to this point (along with my son’s physical offering that morning).

photo cred: Melissa Moore

Now it wasn’t an easy battle, especially in the beginning. Talk about a back-and-forth shootout! But our storm surge is nothing, if not driven and complex. Halfway through the second quarter, the Canes took what would become a strong and decisive lead.

Never underestimate the power and focus of a Hurricane.

So this past Friday was one for the memory and record books. Parker lost his first tooth at five years old out on the football field, and the Purple Hurricanes won their 56th consecutive regular season game.

Friday Nights, Fertility Treatments, & God’s Perfect Timing

Six years ago last week, Mike and I announced we were pregnant with twins. It was football season, and it was an IVF pregnancy. We’d been practicing safe shots at halftime in random field houses and between parked buses for half the regular season. It was not an easy place to be, but it was definitely a blessed place to be, so we savored and celebrated each and every needle poke in my hindquarters.

After trying for over a year to get pregnant (and knowing at my age it was unlikely without intervention), we’d visited a fertility specialist earlier that spring. Naively, I’d thought we’d start the in-vitro process my next cycle. That way, if all went according to plan, we would be well past the exhaustion, hormone injections, and morning sickness of a first-trimester IVF pregnancy once football season began.

Boy, was I naive.

First off, I was 47. Which meant my cycle was far from predictable, even if it had all been up to me and my eggs… which it wasn’t.

My doc kindly informed me my eggs were dinosaurs and he didn’t do Jurassic fertility. So I would be using donor eggs… and an online site to find our match. Kind of like eHarmony, but for couples looking for open, available ovaries.

Second, IVF takes months to prep and plan for. Months. The game plan is exact and exacting, requiring lots of perfectly-orchestrated moving parts. Her ovaries, my uterus, Mike’s swimmers. This was a team effort. And there was no hurry-up offense.

The process was complicated, timely, expensive, and painstaking. But once we found our donor (anonymously), her ovaries were hyper-stimulated, my uterus was prepped, a couple balls were bobbled (wink wink), and… SCORE! (times two!)

And that’s when the really hard part began on my end. My rear end, that is.

We’re talking needles. Lots of them. And vaginal suppositories. And pills. And time. Lots and lots of time. It was quite the process. All in the midst of football season — our embryo transfer happened scrimmage week.

The nightly shots to my booty were a real pain in my end zone. There was a sharpie-circled bulls eye on each cheek, where Mike took aim. (He’d asked the nurse to draw them during week one, and he’d redraw them every couple days as they began to fade. He didn’t want to miss. My booty is plenty big. There’s no way he would’ve missed.) Those shots bruised and burned and gave me an itchy allergic reaction. My ass was hotter than an August-in-Georgia kickoff. And not in a good way.

And because I had to receive those shots as close to the same time every single night for ten weeks or so, they became an even bigger pain on Friday nights. So we arranged for them to fall between 8:30 and 9:00 pm. Because… halftime.

Away games were hard. At home, I got poked in the floor of my husband’s office on a jacket he chivalrously laid over the spongy, decades-old carpet. But away games…

Away games, Mike would scope out the joint, pregame, looking for a hopefully private (sometimes not-so-much) place for me to drop my drawers so he could thrust a needle into my angry, sharpie-circled buttocks.

I got poked on a striped sofa in an Athletic Director’s office.

I got poked in a dark hallway outside a gym within audible distance of the opposing team’s halftime harangue.

I got poked in the back of a Kia Soul, my legs at a cramped, contorted angle while a sweaty linebacker hunted for his mouth guard in the parking lot nearby. Thank God he knew nothing about the shenanigans a mere ten yards away…

I got poked in the arse so many times, and in so many weird and far-from-wonderful locations, that it’s easy to lose track.

I was a pincushion. But I was pregnant pincushion, so I wasn’t complaining.

Beyond the shots, were the oral medications and vaginal suppositories that turned my undies periwinkle if I forgot my pantie liners. Which I did. A lot. My mind was all floaty and fuzzy from the chemical cocktails doing their job.

There were some days when all of the hormones got to me and I cried. Who am I kidding? They got to me all the time. I cried all the cries, all the time.

I cried on touchdown runs. I cried on Publix commercials. I once cried when I cleaned the ceiling fan and clumpy caterpillars of dust dropped from the blades onto my freshly-washed duvet.

But I really, REALLY cried during the band’s playing of Amazing Grace after every home game. Because the reality of God’s gracious favor hit me like a hurricane every single time.

This pregnancy was happening. This was real. And this was all God. I couldn’t take credit. Nor could my husband or my good doctor.

God kept us pregnant through dehydration and preeclampsia and advanced maternal age and hospital runs at midnight and a fortnight of sleeping with ice packs on my chest when it felt like my little linemen were splitting my sternum like a wishbone formation.

So I cried all the cries all the time because I knew and believed in God’s perfect timing.

I was 41 when I met the most amazing football coach. I was 46 when that coach finally threw me a Hail Mary and asked me to be his wife. (But hey, God’s perfect timing…). I was 47 when my fertility team tenderly laid our two precious, perfect, 5-day blastocytes inside my uterus. And I was a monthish shy of 48 when those little linemen burst through my middle in an unplanned C-section just shy of 35 weeks gestation. Absolutely perfect.

So yes, I believe in God’s perfect timing.

Y’all, I am by no means trying to make light of infertility or the expensive and excruciating journey that comes with it — a journey so full of uncertainty and with absolutely no guarantees.

We were incredibly blessed to get pregnant on our first IVF round. Unbelievably blessed. The statistics were not in our favor.

Most women go through an average of 2.7 IVF cycles and experts recommend going through at least three cycles to increase you pregnancy chances. Even then, the success rates fall below 50%.

While the numbers may not sound promising, God’s faithfulness always does. And hearing other people’s stories about fertility treatments helps you feel less alone. Because this is a story so many of us share.

No, there are no guarantees. But there are options.

There are so many generous strangers out there –fertility godmothers, is how I see them — working with God to lend their eggs or their wombs or to give their babies up for adoption. God works in mysterious and perfect ways. None of these journeys are easy. But nothing perfect ever is.

Your blessings may come differently, but they will come. Trust in God’s perfect timing

Expectations Make a Good Team into a Great One

Every summer, prior to season kickoff, the football team sets goals. Sets expectations. What they want and need to accomplish if they are to have a winning season.

Expectations, when met, make a good team into a great one.

The reason I’m wrangling this metaphor is because I just read a post from a football wife asking for some support and advice. Her husband has been gone all summer — from sunup till way-past sundown every day, and the season has yet to begin. This wife is feeling neglected and alone. She needed a sounding board and some legitimate suggestions on how to broach the subject with her husband. She got both from most. But not from all. From one wife, she got something else entirely.

One wife of a football coach told another wife of a football coach to have zero expectations and then she won’t be disappointed.

And that rankles me, y’all. Bad.

It gets me all sorts of riled up. Blood-pressure-through-the-roof, expletive-laden, all sorts of riled up. Because what did she really just tell that wife?

She told her that she comes last. That she doesn’t deserve her man’s love, respect, or time. That her needs aren’t important. Quite simply, that she’s not important.

She regurgitated the debilitating dogma that society has fed women since forever: Support your man. Hold down the fort. Love and look after him when he’s around. Miss him when he’s gone. And expect nothing in return. Then… if you get more than that… well… go you!

Now, if y’all know me, you know my history, and you know exactly how I feel when somebody tells a woman she shouldn’t have expectations. You can pretty much guess what came out of my mouth. And it wasn’t pretty. (But it was pretty French.)

As women, we deserve more. As wives… in a marriage… a partnership… a team, if you will… we absolutely deserve more.

Women are so much more than helpmate and safe harbor. We are so much more than simple cisterns to be filled with our man’s hopes, desires, and offspring — contrary to centuries of saying otherwise.

Women have voices and women have value.

And as partners in our marriages we should have expectations. And those expectations should be met. Even in a football marriage. Especially in a football marriage.

Both of you want to win — at football and at marriage. If you didn’t, neither one of you would have gotten involved with either marriage or football. (And tell the truth, football wives, you knew what you were getting into when you married him. Well, for the most part you knew.) And because you both willingly signed up for this crazy life, you’re both now shouldering an insane amount of responsibility.

He’s shouldering the needs of a full squad of teenaged boys with all their adolescent edges and angst. And he’s balancing the demands of a season-full of practice and bus and meal and game schedules. Plus carrying the ungodly stress of parental and community politics. And he doesn’t come home until he’s put it all to bed. Well after dark. Till the field house is quiet and calm. Deceptively so. The weight of it all can be unbearable.

And you’re balancing and carrying and shouldering, too. Everything else. Jobs, hearth, home, kids. All the study and practice and play and bath and story and bed times. Plus the ungodly stress of all the tantrums and fistfights and set-it-all-right politics. And he doesn’t come home until you’ve put it all to bed. Well after dark. Till the house is quiet and calm. Deceptively so. The weight of it all can be unbearable.

It’s easy to get resentful. On both sides. Because from each respective side, it appears the other has it easier. Well, guess what? Neither has it easy.

To keep our marriage healthy and happy, my guy and I BOTH have expectations. As we should.

Mine are simple, but effective: Communication and Kisses.

Communication is my bread and butter. It sustains me. Before the day begins, we have breakfast. Together. Always. It’s my special 20 minutes of “Just Us” time while the boys are still in bed. Cereal, coffee and simple chit-chat — my fuel for the day.

Then he sends me little texts as power snacks all day long. And for lunch, sweet love notes on my sandwich bag. He makes all the lunches — it’s just one way he helps lighten my load. That plus laundry — preloaded in a delay cycle a couple times a week. (I hit the jackpot with my coach. He exceeds my expectations. Constantly.)

And then there’s the kisses. Lots and lots of kisses. At wake up. Before leaving for work. With emojis on the phone. And real ones when he gets home. Always before games. And always after games.

Always and forever, lots and lots of kisses. Without them, I more-than-sort- of-self-destruct. It’s well documented. So he gives me plenty.

Plenty of communication and kisses. It’s on the game plan.

And as for his expectations, they’re a whole lot of the same — especially, believe it or not, the communication part. Because if I don’t tell him when something’s bothering me or something’s not working, he’ll spend all sorts of time he doesn’t have trying to fix it — totally blind. And that’s not fair to either one of us.

Yes, football and marriage are team sports. And for the team to get stronger and for the game to go well, each member needs their expectations set and then met. That’s what makes a good team into a great one.

And everybody wins. Everybody.

Hungry for Postseason Ball

The trees are shedding, the sod is crunchy, the air is crisp, sometimes cold.

It is the season of gathering.

Now through December — in communities small and large — folks will gather together in thanks and appreciation for all they’ve been given.

Hungry for the seasonal bounty of Thanksgiving, yes. But also for the seasonal bounty of football. For casseroles, cobblers, turkeys and trimmings. And for region champs, underdogs, tailgates and trophies.

The holidays and high school playoffs have arrived. The season of gathering is upon us.

Select stadiums, in rapidly diminishing quantities, are serving up well-seasoned teams in high-stakes games.  And the crowds gather…

They gather ’round brackets on web sites and print, plotting their next month of Friday Night Lights. Hungry.

They gather in field house conference room chairs, burning the midnight oil, HUDL screens and whiteboards at hand. Hungry.

They gather in position rooms watching their film, correcting, perfecting their skill sets each day. Hungry.

They gather on practice fields in cold gear and sleeves, sweating through fundys and scout team and reps. Hungry.

They gather in pass gate and ticket booth lines, wrapping ’round buildings and down city streets. Hungry.

They gather on bleachers in gloves, scarves, and hats, fueled with concessions and love for their team. Hungry.

They gather in student sections, dressed for a theme, painted and cheering, 12th man on each play. Hungry.

They gather in marching band sectional rows, percussion and woodwinds, plus brass and the guard. Hungry.

They gather for tumbling runs, pyramids, cheers, with megaphones, pompoms and sideline school spirit. Hungry.

They gather in tunnels, behind hand-painted signs, with big-game jerseys and game faces on. Hungry.

They gather on the fifty with officials in stripes, silver coin flipping through energized air. Hungry.

They gather with coaches for some last-minute love… some fist-bumping, chest-thumping last-minute love. Hungry.

And then, finally. Finally the game buzzer sounds.

And finally, the glittering helmets — the waxed fruit of autumn — spill onto the field into kickoff formation beneath the gleaming-hot Friday Night Lights and the crowd holds its collective breath. Hungry.

Yes, the holidays and playoffs have arrived. The season of gathering is upon us.

May the coin toss be ever in our favor. May we all stay healthy. And may we all stay Hungry.

(feature photo cred: Cathy Sharpe)

My D-line Coaching Husband and his Boys

My husband is a big, burly, former D-line player and a big, burly, current D-line coach.

We have twin boys. Twin boys my husband waited thirty-six years to have. Twin boys whose genetics could prove the perfect combo to make him daddy to a couple of D-line players’ one day, too.

And I know my D-line coaching husband would love for his boys to follow in his shoulder pads and put their hand on the ground — along with a quarterback or two-hundred.

And it might happen. But then again, it might not. And we’re both okay with that. We encourage our boys to explore what they love and to follow their bliss.

And one of our son’s bliss involves football and trucks. He says he wants to drive a truck like daddy’s when he grows up and be “a coach” like daddy because he “loves to tackle.”  (He might be a wee bit confused.)

And the other one of our son’s bliss involves feathers and unicorns and everything Disney. He says he wants to be “Elsa” when he grows up because he “loves princesses.” (And some would say he is a wee bit confused.)

But I would never say that. And neither would his daddy.

So when Daddy takes our boys to Target after a particularly hectic week of football to spend their allowance and some time with them, one usually comes back with trucks and one usually comes back with princesses.

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And I love my big, burly D-line husband so incredibly much for this — for his ability to foster the joy and individuality of our two totally opposite twin boys.

And when Daddy takes the boys with him to Home Depot to pick up supplies for little projects around the house,  one is usually wearing his favorite blue boa and both are always wearing great, big smiles.

parker and tate

And I love my big, burly, D-line coaching husband so incredibly much for this — for his ability to walk proudly and without hesitation through the world’s most testosterone-laden chain store with our two totally opposite twin boys.

And when the boys pick out their Halloween costumes and one wants to be a police officer like his grandpa was in the military, and the other wants to be a unicorn like his imagination was in his wildest dreams, their daddy encourages them both with compliments and high fives.

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And I love my big, burly D-line coaching husband so incredibly much for this — for his unconditional love and affection for our two totally opposite twin boys.

Our boys are undeniably loved and undeniably fortunate. Both their parents encourage and support them and their choices, encourage and support them and their passions, encourage and support them and their personalities. Both of their parents encourage and support THEM — whether they fit our expectations — or society’s — or not.

Our hopes and dreams and prayers for our boys are that they be happy, secure, productive members of society, doing whatever it is they want to do and being whomever it is they want to be.

And my hopes and dreams and prayers for every child in every house in every neighborhood in every land is that they have a family — with or without a big, burly D-line coach  — who wishes the same for them.

That’s all.

Amen.

The Letterman

Our football program is a storied one. Giants have grown from our gridiron. Heroes have hailed from our hashmarks. Our Friday Night Lights have incubated some of the Greatest Of All Time.  There is one GOAT, though, that stands above all others.

This past Friday night, my twin boys and I were in the field house when HE walked in — larger than life and with a twinkle in his eye.

Now my boys are incredibly shy —  hiding behind my legs or climbing daddy’s shoulders around most people — but not around this hero. They’ll line up for some knuckles or a quick hug Every Single Time.

No, I’m not talking Trevor — although he was there on Friday night too, and just as genuine and gracious as ever.

But nope — I’m talking E. The man. The myth. The legend.

His given name is Edgar Moore, but his fans — his generations and generations of fans — they all know him by a single letter. A single vowel.  “E.”

Now “E,” the Letter, is the most influential in the English language. The Silent E  has transformative powers, working in concert with consonants to turn soft vowels into hard ones.

“E,” the Legend, is likewise influential. Far from silent, he cheers and cajoles, working in concert with coaches to turn soft players into hard ones. And he takes his job VERY seriously — and we’re not simply talking Friday nights in the fall. E is there with the team sweating it out at every summer workout and every fall practice.

And he’s been doing it for over thirty years. Over the past three decades, on any given Autumn afternoon, E has been spotted making his way across busy Church Street from the local Burger King, where he has a job (of 28 years), to the field house, where he has a calling (of 33 years… and counting).

E has been a part of every championship season the Canes have had — and he has the four state rings to prove it. (Plus three more in baseball). He’s worked with three head coaches and hundreds if not thousands of  players. As a matter of fact, four of the coaches on staff wore purple jerseys back in the day, and E was their manager then.

And E is their manager now.

But his role with Cartersville Football goes way beyond Manager.

E is Encourager and Nurturer and Motivator and Dancer (has he got the sideline moves!) and even (most surprising of all to those not in the inner circle), Odds-maker.  His skill for predicting game outcomes is uncanny.  His track-record is mind-blowing. Vegas should be so lucky as to have an E in their corner.

And we here at Cartersville– we know how extremely lucky we are to have him in ours.

E is a blessing to every member of our football community — coaches, players, families, and fans. We all know his name. We all sing his praises. We all know his worth — Priceless.

Because there’s simply no CANES without our Not-So-Silent E.

For the New Wife on the Team

For the new Wife on the Team:

It’s a daunting challenge, joining a new coaching family. There’s a whole lot of feeling your way around and searching for a niche.

It’s an uncomfortable place to be and can feel incredibly isolating – especially if you don’t have biological family close by to help with the kids and the nerves and the insecurities. Because there are ALWAYS insecurities when you’re with a new team. Always.

In the beginning, you usually feel more apart from than a part of a new football program.

I vividly recall two lonely seasons not long ago where I was completely apart from the other coaches’ wives. It was just me and my twin babies, a stroller loaded with a pantry full of snacks, and a haunting suspicion that in the whole grand scheme of things, no one on staff besides my very own coach gave a darn about whether or not we were ok.

Every Friday night, I hunkered down in the far corner of an end zone because we couldn’t navigate the stadium risers on our own (and no one ever offered to help). So we dodged band instruments and blazing-fast receivers. And we stood apart and alone.

One of my favorite social media hash tags is #footballisfamily. Sadly, there was no family on that football team.

Now, however, thanks to the grace of God, my personal little football family has found itself in the midst of a football program that is all about family. There is true connectivity and support amongst the coaches’ wives on our current team. There are welcome notes and survival baskets at the beginning of the season. There are group texts for reminders and updates throughout the fall. There are generous hugs and helping hands in the stands on Friday nights. And there are potluck dinners and hearty conversations in the field house after games.

This is what the hash tag #footballisfamily should be about.

So I’m writing this blog — not for the new wife, but for the established wives in your football family.

I’m writing this as a gentle reminder that all of us have been there. We’ve all been the New Wife — the one no one knows. And sadly, some of us have even been the New Wife that no one ever knows… the one that no one ever reaches out to before the transient nature of the football life has its way with us, and we move on to our next location and our next potential football family.

So I’m writing as a reminder that football SHOULD be family.

Don’t be the wife who never reaches out to welcome the new member. Don’t be the one who assumes someone else will do it — somebody else will check up on her because you, you with the twin toddlers and the teaching job and gazillion essays to grade and gazillion students to nurture and never-ending dishes and laundry and dusting to do (well, you get the picture), you are helmet-deep in The Grind and you just can’t do a single thing more.

Ah, The Grind – the world-famous Football Grind.

It weeds out the unworthy. It leaves the weak in the dust. It measures mental and physical toughness and true character. It ensures that when you’ve given it your all, there’s still more of you to give – to your team. Because football is not a solo sport.

For any team to be successful, it is well understood that every single member must fully embrace The Grind.

And we wives are no exception. We have to be tough and driven and full of desire. And we must always be willing to push through the fatigue and give just a little bit more – for our football family – at home and in the home stands (and away ones, for that matter).

So push through your fatigue, coaches’ wives. Find your reserves and be the New Wife’s Left Tackle. Cover her blind side. Show her the ropes. Send her the welcomes and the updates and the encouragement. Help her wrangle her nerves and her kids in this brand new stadium.

Give her love and support and encouragement and bathroom breaks. (Nobody ever thinks of the bathroom breaks.) Help her become a part of the team.

Correction, help her become a part of the family.

Because Football… it really is family.

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