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SALT LAKE CITY — High school athletics are filled with fun, excitement and wonderful memories. As a former varsity and Division 1 collegiate athlete, I look back on this time in my life with fondness.
I loved winning tournaments and making it to region and state championships. I lived for huge state meets and invitationals when I was able to compete against the best of the best.
Most importantly, I am grateful for the lessons I learned while being on a team: how to work with others toward a common goal, how to get along with others and forge new friendships, and how to listen to and respect your coach.
I am going to draw attention to the last one: how to listen to and respect your coach.
Respecting my coach was something that I always tried my best to do. I knew that his or her advice was valuable and that it was through his or her guidance and instruction that I would be able to achieve my goals. I am forever grateful to them.
"As the coach's wife, there were other things that I witnessed that were not things that I had expected to be part of the job ..."
Recently, though, my respect and admiration for coaches has grown even deeper. A few short years ago, after being away from high school athletics for more than a decade, I found myself right back in it. No, I did not become a coach (thank goodness); it was something almost as stressful. I was suddenly “the coach's wife.”
When my husband was offered the position, we were ecstatic. As a former Division 1 collegiate athlete himself, he was excited to share his love for the sport he grew up playing. He wanted to be the coach that his coach was to him: supportive and kind, and someone who was able to grow a program from the ground up into something great. We were all excited for this new opportunity.
I have never seen a coach so dedicated to the success of his team. Being that he coached a fall sport, much of his summer vacation was spent conducting clinics and fundraisers in order to pay for buses, uniforms and even for the ability to have assistant coaches on his staff. He would spend weeks away at a time, taking his team to team camps. He even missed joining us on our favorite family vacation to Lake Powell because it was the week he was to conduct try-outs.
He did all this without complaining. He expected that it would take a large amount of hard work and dedication to ensure the success of his team.
As the coach's wife, there were other things that I witnessed that were not things that I had expected to be part of the job. I did not expect the 12- to 14-hour days during the season (taking into account his full-time teaching job). I did not expect all of the out-of-pocket expenses; and when the pay works out to be about 10 to 15 cents an hour, it is kind of a wash.
Most importantly, I did not expect to walk behind the stands, hearing parents speak terrible things about my husband; or to sit in the car, watching parents yell at the top of their lungs at him while he stood there and respectfully took it. I did not expect to have a husband who finally came home from work, spending most of the night nursing a migraine, all the while answering emails from parents complaining about this and that, and then to an athletic director who was less than supportive.
All the while, I, the wife, had to remain quiet when all I wanted to do was scream.
Although the majority of the parents and school officials were great, supportive and absolutely wonderful, there were those darn few who thought that they could do a better job, consequently forcing my husband to forgo his dream of coaching and leaving a bitter taste in his mouth in the process.
As a mother of five little aspiring high school athletes, I hope to be able to learn from my experiences as both an athlete and coach's wife. I hope to teach my children to listen to and respect their coaches; they are doing their best.
If you are a parent with concerns, talk to your child's coach in a respectful and kind manner. Most issues can be resolved by doing just that.
Finally, this next week being Teacher Appreciation Week, please include your coaches in your list of those to appreciate. They teach our children so many valuable life lessons that are tough to learn anywhere else.
Arianne Brown is a graduate from Southern Utah University, mother to five young kids and an avid runner. *