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Multigenerational Mom Muses on Twin Toddlers & Twenty-Something Daughters

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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.

There are Three of Us in This Marriage: Confessions of a Football Wife

There are three of us in my marriage. I knew I’d be sharing my husband when I married him. And I also knew it wouldn’t be easy.

I get jealous sometimes. (Who am I kidding? I get jealous a lot.)

Because the third member is demanding and competitive and physical and fast. Oh, and hot — incredibly, extraordinarily HOT. And then there’s all the penetration. So much penetration. (For this one, it’s all about the grind!)

And I can’t compete with that. (Well, I could, but it’s not really me. I’m the quiet, reserved one in this marriage.)

So I support. And watch. And cheer him on. And I’ve been told that’s hot too. ;b

You see, my husband is a high school football coach, and he’s been married to the game for a really, really, long time. They were a thing long before he and I were a thing. And when we started dating, I had to come to terms with the rules of engagement.

But lucky for me, I love the game, too. I had worshiped it from afar nearly my entire life. I was drawn to its passion and intensity. And then I got incredibly lucky and was able to merge the two loves of my life in holy matrimony. And we’ve been happily married for the last six years. And I love it, I really, really do.

But like I said, sometimes I get jealous.

Football has its way with my husband six nights a week, five months out of every year — plus summers and even a couple of weeks in May. It steals a lot of his time… our time.

That means I don’t get many candlelit dinners and date nights in the fall. (Who am I kidding? As a family with twin boys, we don’t get many of those ANY season — but definitely not during football season.)

Needless to say, because of its unforgiving nature, football can be a homewrecker if you aren’t careful. So you have to be vigilant. And creative. And snag time whenever and wherever you can.

And since Spring Ball just ended for us after a hot and heavy ten days of full contact, Mike and I will be making the most of it for the next two weeks (before summer workouts begin…).

We’ll be eating cozy dinners together — as we referee our forty-pound, twin four-year-old boys while they fight over parental time and attention. Having Daddy home to help share the love (and war) every night is a blessing that I relish while it lasts. And while that may not sound very sexy to you, it is more than a tad bit sexy to me.

And we’ll be spending a lot of time in bubble baths — wrestling those forty-pound twin four-year-olds into and out of the water. Having Daddy home to help snag the slippery little suckers and wrangle them into pajamas every night is a blessing that I cherish while it lasts.  And while that may not sound sexy to you, it is mega-sexy to me.

And we’ll be snuggling up on the couch – with two forty-pound four-year-olds in our laps demanding four stories, complete with sound effects and occasional hand motions. Having Daddy there to read while I administer asthma and allergy meds every night is a blessing I treasure while it lasts. And while that might not sound sexy to you, it is super sexy to me.

And we’ll be giving and receiving a whole lot of loving in bed – as we tuck those two forty-pound four-year-old boys of ours beneath the covers and sing them lullabies. Having Daddy there to give real-life kisses instead of surrogate ones every night is a blessing I hold dear while it lasts. And while that might not sound sexy to you, it is uber-sexy to me.

And we’ll be taking a couple of vacations – family ones — and by family vacations, I mean our little family will be visiting our larger, extended family (including the boys’ big sisters) during the dead weeks between now and the start of football season.Having Daddy there to help contain and entertain twin preschoolers on incredibly long and arduous cross-country road trips to see the people we love most in the world may not sound very sexy to you, but I find it sexy as hell. (Well, the travel will be hell, but my husband — he’s sexy.)

Now don’t get me wrong. My coaching husband and I do have some time to celebrate US with just the two of us. We do. We make time. And sometimes it’s as simple as popcorn in bed while we catch up on our crime dramas and each other. But we do manage to squeeze in the occasional candle-lit date night, too. We even have one planned for tonight. Mike set it up and surprised me with it.

And I think that’s ANYBODY’S definition of sexy.

Yes, there are three of us in this relationship (not to mention a couple of forty-pound preschool boys). And sometimes it feels like football gets more time and attention and energy than the boys and I ever do. It is definitely demanding. And physical. And competitive. And passionate. But boy, is it HOT.

Football – and my coaching husband – they’re HOT.

So, it’s always worth the work. It’s always worth the grind. As a matter of fact, it’s all about the grind. And that, my friends, is sexy.

Legends of the Fall and the Alchemy of Football

This weekend was a tough loss. I don’t know that I’ve ever been as invested in a group of players and coaches’ families like I have been with this group. And it’s been three years of continuous wins. Of glorious, riotous, practically-perfect wins. And Friday night hurt. And if it hurt me – a marginal member of a legendary football dynasty — I can’t imagine the pain of the players and coaches. Although I did bear witness to it. But I’ll get to that in a minute. First, let me tell you what I see and know about these boys and their leaders.

For the past two years, from the stands and practice fields, I’ve witnessed this team pour all of everything they have into the game, purifying their sweat and blood and spinning it into gold. And purple. Because these athletes are alchemists. They have transformed common elements of a typical Friday night under the lights into the stuff of legend. They are legend.

And I’m not talking individual legend – though we have that too. We have region and state and national legends among this team. But, no, I’m talking legends of discipline and legends of character. I’m talking quality of soul and purity of heart. They are good fellows, the whole lot.

They own and are the stuff of legends. And victory was theirs. For so many seasons

And then, last night, it all ended in seconds. And in silence.

And the loss was so sudden and so heavy and so hard.

And what I saw after, in the belly of a field house they’ve called home half a year every year for their high school careers – a field house witness to half-time harangues, post-game heroes, and now postseason heartache – was the purest pain I’ve ever borne witness to. Players wrapping themselves up in the arms of their football family for strength and support. Searching for a way to handle the hurt. To shoulder the hurt. To weather the hurt. Padded shoulder pressed to padded shoulder, coaches patting heads and rocking giant bodies while whispering words of comfort and wisdom… and love.

This team knows love. The fans love them. The community loves them. And we are all hurting with them.  But those coaches have a different love for their players — a love unfathomable to those of us who have never played the sport. But I see glimpses of it from the practice field and the sidelines and the field house. I see its power. I see how it builds confidence and character and futures.

Yes, these boys know love. And they know disciple and determination and how to win big. And now they know how to lose big.

And I know this loss – with its devastating, season-ending sting, a sting they will always feel somewhere deep in the marrow of their being –  will prove valuable to these players and their coaches alike.

Because football is truly an alchemist’s sport. And it gives players the skills to transform baser matters into gold – and this loss, this harshest of base matters, is their biggest challenge yet. But they have what it takes to sift and sort through the pain and then forge ahead into the brightest of bright, golden futures. They have the stuff. The stuff of legends.

Your fans are in awe of you, Hurricanes. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for showing us how you spin sweat, blood, and tears into purple and gold.

*Huge photo creds to Cathy Sharpe, Cartersville Purple Hurricanes sideline photographer for capturing this beautiful cover shot.

It’s the Most Wonderful Ball of the Year: a Postseason Sing-Along

championshipprayer

It’s the most wonderful ball of the  year

With the brackets all forming

And top-seeds all donning their jerseys and gear

It’s the most wonderful ball of the year

 

It’s the most treacherous postseason ball

Proven dynasties going, some underdogs showing

With some bound to fall

It’s the most treacherous postseason ball

 

They’ll be one seeds for hosting

And die-hard fans boasting

And painted torsos for the teams

You’ll see hurry-up offenses,

stout, hard-nosed defenses,

coaching staff powerhouse schemes

 

It’s the most wonderful ball of the year

With those shotgun formations and smash mouth foundations

And Winners-Take-All

It’s the most wonderful ball of the year

 

There’ll be uprights for splitting

And ‘backers for hitting

and running backs rarin’ to go

There’ll be scary near-misses

And tales of the blitzes of

Quarterbacks taking a blow

 

It’s the battle to clench #1 time of year

There’ll be much missile-throwing

And scoreboards all glowing when trophies are near

It’s the battle toclench #1 time of year

 

There’ll be offense aggression

With deep penetration

From the gunslinger’s merciless blow

There’ll be defensive glories

And big tales and stories

Of championships seized from the foe!

 

It’s the most wonderful ball

Yes, the most wonderful ball

It’s the most wonderful ball of the year!

When your Opponent Blusters and Blows, but you Have Promise on your Sideline

Sitting out on my back porch, typing my blog for the week, a hummingbird came to visit. He hovered just over my right shoulder, his wings humming frustration in my ears. You see, his feeder was empty – still is, actually. And he was voicing his frustration through whispers of angry, agitated air.

He was frustrated, but I was fascinated. His wings, soft and rumbly as a cat’s purr, a bumblebee’s snore, a raspberry buzzed on a baby’s round belly. A rainbow’s shimmer in his puffed, iridescent chest.

I could see him in the reflection of my laptop. His needle-thin beak turned slightly to the left, giving me the cold shoulder — but making absolutely certain I could see how pissed he was.

He hung there in my screen for maybe twenty seconds, stirring the air with his displeasure, amusing me with his antics, before buzzing away.

Our football team faced an equally pissed and impotent nuisance this week in a decades’ long, close-town rivalry game.

Like a hummingbird harangue, the opposing team raged against the machine that is our offense, making absolutely certain we could see how pissed they were. They hung on our screens all week long – stirring the air on Twitter with their hissy fits and buzzing barbs. They slung zingers and threatened with their stingers in a futile attempt to rattle our players and defame our team character.

Their social media predictions beg a communism analogy: looked good on a screen-shot; fell horribly flat in reality.

You see, after our lopsided victory last year, they were frustrated and fired up. We were just fired up.

Our boys used their frustrations as fodder. They may have come hungry, but we’re the ones who feasted.

There are several similarities between my little hummingbird’s attempt at scoring the sweet nectar of victory and our winged opponent’s.  Both vented their frustrations into the airwaves. Both were ultimately as nonthreatening as a bumblebee’s snore.

And both went home disappointed.

Oh, and one final similarity — that rainbow’s shimmer in my hummingbird’s puffed up, iridescent chest? Yeah, it was merely the shadowy reflection of the glorious harbinger of back-to-back victories that flared over our home stadium in the first quarter last night.

Rainbows symbolize promise. And this one was a double — two of them, people — stacked one atop the other. As in back to back.

They never even had a chance.

 

 

Sunday Night Baking for our Inside Linebacker Boys

This week, the 2017 football season officially kicks off. And that means that from here on out, on any given Sunday, you’ll find me in my kitchen baking up treats for my husband’s players.

He coaches inside linebackers – those middle of the defense playmakers, ever ready and willing to bounce blockers, blitz quarterbacks and tackle large quantities of fullbacks and fudge brownies.

And I love baking these boys some sweets as much if not more than they love eating them. Baking is one of my all-time favorite pastimes. For me, it’s a form of love. I bake for people I admire and respect, and I bake for people I appreciate. And I always, always bake for people I love: my children, my friends, and now, Cartersville’s inside linebackers.

I mean, what’s not to love? What’s not to respect? They work hard and they play hard. They take their knocks and they get back up again. They understand discipline and commitment better than men quadruple their age. They are well-studied and they are selfless. And I figure baking up something special on a Sunday afternoon is the least I can do to let these young men know how much I appreciate what they do for their teammates and for their coaches.

It’s a tradition I began last year when my husband joined a team more focused on family than any we’ve ever been a part of.  We are a community and my baked goods are my attempt at communion – at feeding their souls with foods consecrated by love.

This coaching crew is qualified in so many different areas, but I must say that one of their finest talents is building relationships with the young men who risk limb and ligaments for a ballgame.

A ballgame, yes — but it’s so much more than a ballgame, as well. It helps these young men realize the importance of being a part of something bigger than themselves. Everyone is an integral part of the team. They work hard. Together. They grow strong. Together. If they win, they do it together. If they lose, they do it together. They are a team.

The offense doesn’t win without the defense. The defense doesn’t score without the offense – well, sometimes they do, but that’s beside the point. The point is, they are all needed: the quarterback, the h-back, the receivers, the linemen, the corners, the linebackers, the nose guard, the kickers. They are all part of the team. Without each one of these positions, the game would flounder and fail. It would be nothing but a muddled up mosh pit of egos stomping their feet and flailing their arms, and ramming and jamming at one another — with absolutely no point and no progress.

Kind of like the world was this weekend. A world full of egos. Look at me! See me! I matter! No one else matters but me!

It’s becoming abundantly clear that there are vast numbers of people out in this world who know nothing about hard work, toughness, sacrifice and teamwork.

Life is a contact sport. It is hard. It is tough. And it requires sacrifice and teamwork and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

And that’s what I admire most about these Cartersville coaches and their football philosophy: the love they give their players. And they’re not afraid to show it. I’ve seen it from the stands, and I’ve seen it in the field house. I’ve seen it at practice, and I’ve seen it in games. They love their players. A lot.

And to quote a little Seuss, unless someone like them cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better. It’s not.

I’m starting to think the world needs more football. And a whole lot more coaches like Canes coaches.

 

Football Gives me All the Feels: Confessions of a Coach’s Wife

It’s the beginning of the football season once again, and there’s not too much I can say about the football life of a football wife that I haven’t said before.

You already know I love it. And you already know it makes me crazy. Some days I can’t sing its praises enough. Others, I want to wring its disembodied little intangible neck. It robs me of time and it showers me with blessings.

It is a paradox of ginormous proportions.

This past Sunday morning I sat on my back porch, the silken and slippery humid air settling and sliding off my limbs, making everything feel slow and sweet simply because it was Sunday morning.  You know, all easy like.

So I breathed in the easy. I breathed in the sweet, succulent calm, and I held it deep down in core of my soul.  And there it remains. My future calm in the storm of the impending football season.

Wordsworth was fueled by powerful emotions recollected in tranquility. Me, I’m fueled by the opposite: tranquility recollected during powerful emotions. Because starting tomorrow, and for the next five months, my life will be FILLED with powerful emotions. Wave after wave of powerful emotions. No doubt about it.

Starting with love. I’ve always had a hard, strong love for the game. It began in middle school, when I fell hard for the Dallas Cowboys of my youth and the TCU Horned Frogs of my hometown. This was no puppy love. It was true and it was deep and it was eternal.

And with that love comes butterflies – a tickling, nervous anticipation every, single game night. When I see those stadium lights, haloed in the gloaming, sparkling with the wings of a thousand frenzied moths, saluted by the cheers of a thousand frenzied fans, my belly goes downright giddy.

But along with all the love comes intense jealousy — jealousy of the time it steals away from our family, the demands it puts on the man we love most. It keeps him from us for most of the week and it keeps him from most of what our family holds most sacred: meal times and bath times and story times and bed.

He came home late the other night – for the third time this week — calves flecked with paint from lining the field. It was well past the boys’ bedtime. They had missed him. Again. And they had said so. Again. Several times. And it’s only the first week of many, many weeks we will miss him this season.

So yeah, I get jealous sometimes — of the time that it takes. And sometimes it makes me sad. And sometimes it makes me mad. Like that other night, when Mike came home late, all paint-flecked calves and sweat-stained shirt and flat-out worn-out…

But when I saw him, a calm settled over me, my Sunday Morning Calm. I remembered. I remembered that this is my love — this man and this sport. This is my life and this is my destiny — a destiny written long ago, in the helmeted stars of America’s team.

Yep, football makes me crazy. And happy. And angry. And happy. And jealous. And happy. And frantic. And happy. And, well, you name it, I feel it. All the feels. The great, big, powerful feels. Except for sorry. Football never makes me feel sorry.

 

What it Takes to Be a Football Family

It is mid-June. Summer hasn’t even officially begun– the solstice hits this week – but already the father of my children is helmet-deep in football camp and has been for nearly a month.

I am married to a high school football coach. My twin toddlers have a high school football coach for a dad. He is one heck of a father, one heck of a husband, and one heck of a coach. And as another season grinds its way into gear, I’ve been thinking a lot about how football and being a football family demand a lot of similar physical and emotional commitments.

Football, and being a football family, takes teamwork. And luckily, my husband and I make a damn good team. In his football job on game nights, my husband is up in the booth — away from the field, but very much in on the action. His daddy job at home is not that much different. He’s not on the field (football keeps him away from home most days until just before the boys’ bedtime and sometimes not even then), but he’s very much in on the action. He monitors, helps make adjustments, keeps me motivated, and provides endless emotional support. There’s no way I could run this program without him.

Football, and being a football family, takes hard work and dedication. The two of us have accentuated the importance of routine and fundamentals with our twins from the get-go. Nap times and dinner times and screen times and bedtimes are established and rarely vary. The boys know and understand our expectations, which provides me immeasurable advantage when I’m putting them through their paces alone at home during the season. They are disciplined and –for the most part – dedicated to the routine. But that doesn’t mean things can’t go wrong in an instant. Blitzes can still blindside me. Take downs can occur. Turnovers can and do happen. But discipline and vision can shift that momentum right back to the proper side again, just like in football.

Which brings me to how football, and being a football family, requires a solid game plan. Without one, your team will rarely be victorious. And even if you do have one in place, you won’t always get the W. Still, it is pure insanity to play ball without one. Since most of our family’s day-to-day offense is on this mama’s shoulders during season, our schemes must be solid and darn-near foolproof. I’ve come to rely on zone blocking and a solid running game. There’s no time for huddle (and no one around to huddle with even if there were time). Now most days, everything goes according to plan. But regardless of the amount of reps and hands-on instruction you’ve given, execution is rarely without flaws. Balls get dropped. Occasionally a player goes down. Penalties are accrued. Mama’s nerves get sacked. And that’s where my coaching husband and father to my children excels most.

I’m talking motivation, here. Because football, and being a football family, requires motivation. Twins can make life crazy. And when you’re going it alone for the vast majority of the season, you need both inner and outer motivation. With husband in my corner, I have the outside motivation covered. He knows how to give just the right pep talk to pull me back into the game, more energized and ready to succeed than before. But for those times when he’s not available for consult – those times when I have to get up, dust myself off and execute the game plan without anyone else around to bounce off ideas, I have to dig deep and rely on those hard-and-fast fundamentals. I have to trust the vision, to do what we do, run what we run, and believe in our teamwork and tenacity. We’ve tried to plan for every possible scenario, to account for every gap, and to have the flexibility to take what comes at us and roll with it.

Yes, football and being a football family requires physical demands and emotional commitments from everyone involved. And not everyone is cut out for it. There are so many lonely dinners and difficult bath times. There are so many rushed labor-day cookouts and daddy-less trick-or-treats. There are so many tears from kids who miss their daddies — and occasionally from mamas missing them too. Because there may not be crying in baseball, but believe me, there is crying in football. A lot of crying.

But most of those tears are the good kind. The happy kind. The proud kind. The kind you blink away as your boys run to the fence to give Daddy a kiss during summer practice. The kind that sting your eyes with pride as you and your boys rush the field for a hug and kiss after the game. The kind you shed after your husband reads you a text sent from a player who just secured a D-1 scholarship. The kind that run down your cheeks and off your chin after a championship run that ends in success.

The kind that unexpectedly well up when you think about how much you love your football husband, your football family, and your football life – your hard, hectic, wild and way-harder-than-you-ever-thought-possible football life.

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