Raising a child around team sports and learning the lessons they provide has changed our family for the better.
My husband is the head coach of the Eastern Greene Football program. This is his first year in this position but he has been a high school assistant for the last eight years and was a middle school head coach for his first two years of his coaching career. Travis and I have been together for almost eleven years and I knew what I was getting into from the get-go. Football has been a part of our lives since day one, and our son’s, too.
The Life of a Coach…and Family
Matthew was born on a Friday night week nine of our eighth season of coaching football. Hours after he came into this world, Travis held Matt in his arms as he watched film from the game. On a chilly night two weeks later, Matt attended his first high school football game where we ended up coaching the next year. The young men who have played in the programs we have been a part of have treated Matt like their own brother. They have chased him around the gym as he giggled, carrying a stolen basketball during a downtime game. Fist bumps are shared at every gathering and he orders them around like he’s a coach himself.
Our son loves “his football boys” and enjoys being around the team and staff. Matthew has his own bucket hat and whistle just like daddy and he will gladly sport them to practice as he counts down 3-2-1 GO!
It can be hard to wrap your head around this life if you haven’t been in our shoes. We are a football family, and a lot of our time revolves around the sport and the community. It’s not a few months out of the year or a few nights out of the week- it can be 10-12 months out of the year, and it’s seven days a week with one week of vacation in July which is IHSAA (Indiana High School Athletic Association) mandated. In the traditional off-season, we are planning and participating in fundraisers for our team. Travis not having a 9-5 job has been tough on our family, but Matthew has learned to be flexible. It’s one of the traits we have seen Matt develop through being involved in this sport.
The Importance of Team Sports for Development
Around age four, children usually begin participating in organized sports and activities. Whether it’s baseball, gymnastics, or football, our kids are taught important life lessons along with staying active and healthy. Growing up, I wasn’t part of organized team sports until middle school. I remember envying my classmates throughout my early school days as they sported their team shirts and talked with their friends that participated as well. While I struggled with weight issues and social anxiety, these other kids seemed to be thriving; I yearned for the experience.
I mustered up the courage to try out for the dance and track team when I entered the seventh grade. The thrill of competing, feeling stronger, and making new friends enticed me. Both teams accepted me, and I actually excelled at both, finding an ease to my anxiety that has carried me through adulthood. I continued on to high school with the color guard as a part of the marching band. As an adult, I have remained friends with those I competed with and have close bonds with the family Travis and I created through his football team, as well. Though Matt is only two, he has made bonds with the coaches and players he has already met. He has aunts, uncles, and brothers in these special people: they help build him up as he grows.
Using Skills in All Areas of Your Life
My son is an artist, musically inclined, and strong. l hope that, as he excels in his gifts, he uses the skills football can teach him. Things like:
- Learning to respect others as well as himself with the awareness of character and authority
- Being a teammate in every aspect of his life and leading with tact.
- Pride in who he is, what he believes in, as well as what he is a part of.
- It’s OK to lose but that there is a lesson in it and to do it with grace.
I am seeing other skills already developing in his personality: though Matt has not grown up in daycare, he socializes with everyone very well. He also respects other’s space but has the self-confidence to make new friends in new situations.
Matthew, Travis, and I are a football family through and through. We have been at this for almost eleven years, but have not experienced as much as others in this field. The teams we have been a part of originally are close to family and friends. We are fortunate to have been a part of great programs where we have made friends and grown our football family. This life is not for the faint of heart, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. The Wrays are in this together and will always go forward as a team.