I am a coach’s wife. I signed up for it, back when we were young and stupid and didn’t have a penny to our name. I said yes to an awesome guy and yes to being a coach’s wife.

I love sports, that is the beauty. I can follow my husband’s job and cheer on his team. I’m invested.

Some of the disadvantages, however, are seeing the struggles of coaches these days from all levels, but on the high school level, it can be brutal.

We have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in the past 20 plus years.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many rewards, too. The student-athletes are the best reward. More often than not, there is a bond with them. Not their best friend, they have enough friends, but a mutual respect. There is also the friendship with other coaches and their wives and families. That is the most rewarding for me. Coaches and coaches’ wives we have met over the years are the best people we know.

Friends for life.

I see the dedication and hard work from my husband and other coaches as well. The time commitment is daunting and tedious. Up at 5:00 a.m., to work by 7:15 a.m. (oh yes, because he teaches all day too). Practice until 6:00 p.m then game film, game breakdowns, planning, and prep work. Then wake up and do it over again. Don’t forget game nights and traveling to a large city, two or three hours away. On weeknights, he is home at midnight or later then he turns around to go back the next day. 

Exhausting. Rewarding. Exhausting.

No one really comprehends the time. A coach’s wife does.

I rarely hear him complain because of his love of the student-athlete relationship and his love of the sport. 

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As parents, we all want the best for our kids. To be the absolute best. It is tough when they don’t get the playing time, or the position we think they should have. I have been there watching my kids. Sometimes even knowing they may not be the most talented on the field, but darn it, they are working hard and have a good attitude, shouldn’t that count for something? Sometimes not. Welcome to life.

Although we may think we know what is best for our athletes, we don’t. The coaches do. They are the ones, day in and day out in practice who know what is best for the team. Yes—I said team. Not your kid or two kids put together, but a team as a whole. Welcome to reality.

I think we have seen a breakdown in that trust of a coach in the last few years. That is my opinion.

Coaches weren’t hired to make one individual kid shine like a diamond and get all the accolades, their job is to build a team and a strong foundation for success.

To be clear, I don’t feel every parent that complains wants a coach fired. There are some supportive and awesome parents out there. I am just saying, from my perspective and living through certain coaching storms with my husband, the coaching culture has changed drastically. And, I don’t think it is getting better. 

Why is that? Why the extra stress. I blame youth sports. It is out of control. Youth sports should provide a solid foundation for learning and skills for the student athlete, but I also feel that it has caused our crazed-sports-minded culture to go off tilt of reality. Certain parent egos are out of control. Reliving the glory days vicariously through our kids can be detrimental.

I hear time and time again, “These kids are going to be so awesome when they are in high school, they will be state champions.” Or this one: “That kid is huge, he will be awesome in high school, Division I for sure.” Whoa people, let’s pump the breaks just a bit. I have been guilty of all of the above, but I have had to take a reality check and say, “Oh my goodness, really people? This kid is in sixth grade.” We are setting huge expectations for them already. Setting them up for failure.

RELATED: To the Coach Who Benched Me, Thanks For Teaching Me About Life

I think it is good to have goals and dreams for your child, but I feel we must align those goals with what our child wants. Clear communication between parent and child is key. I have found that parents may be upset with a coach and in reality, the athlete is perfectly happy with their role.

I also think the biggest mistake parents make when they think their kid is a superstar, is pumping their student athlete up early to be the star.

Let’s focus on being a good person, too. A person that a teacher would want to teach, and a Sunday School teacher would want in their classroom. And, let’s not forget grades.

Maybe that Division I scholarship is not in the cards for your child. Let’s be darn sure our kids are focusing on school, good study habits, and good grades. And did I mention, being a good person? As parents, we want our kids to be focused on being a good teammate and to be supportive, too.

The one thing I am most proud of with my husband as a coach is his integrity. He is a really good guy. A good husband, father, and educator. And a good coach. I know my husband has the respect of his students. I am proud of that, too.

Being a good person and a good family man goes a long way in this world. Well, it should. Sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, when we get lost in the wins and losses and stats and not the kind of person that is coaching your kid, then we are in trouble. That, sometimes, sadly—is life.

The worst thing for a parent is to question everything a coach is doing.

Years ago, my husband was coaching a young man whose parents insisted on watching game film after every game. The dad would pick-a-part calls, the officials, the teammates, and his own child. It just messed with this kid’s head. Really. By the time the kid hit the floor, he didn’t know who to listen to or what to focus on. Mentally, he was a wreck. Dad chirping in his ear that he was the rock-star of the team and should be making all the plays and the coaches setting up a solid foundation for a team.

RELATED: To the Coaches Who Do So Much More Than Coach, Thank You

Parents (and you know who you are): let the coaches coach. Be positive, be encouraging. This is your kid’s experience, not yours.

It is darn hard to watch your kid not get the accolades or playing time, but let’s be sure to set them up for a solid foundation in life and not fight their battles. Let’s focus on teaching them to be a good teammate of life.

A coach's wife gives her insight into the world of school sports, the pressure we put on our teenagers and the exhausting excitement of it all.

Renae Zimmer

My name is Renae Riddle Zimmer. I was born in Iowa and raised in Nebraska. I am a Midwest girl. I married my high school sweetheart, Dave Zimmer and raised two awesome kids. Nolan, 21 and Kamryn, 17. As we approach our empty nest years—we reflect a lot on our life—our kids—and being a part of the “sandwich” generation as well. Taking care of teenagers and aging parents. All the joys and difficulties that are ahead. We are solid in our faith—solid in our family and we love each other, support each other. I work a corporate job and travel. My husband is an educator and coach. We love to cook, garden, landscape, watch sports and enjoy our kids activities. We follow up college-age son as he runs cross country and track for Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo. And support our daughter as she is in the last year of high school . Where did the time go?