You are a daughter, a sister, and a mother. To the greater world, however, you are largely known as a college football coach’s wife. When we first met, you chose not to volunteer the latter. You positioned yourself as a preschool mother ally and, in doing so, earned my deepest respect.
I know today must be difficult. When your husband’s team wins, the world laughs with you. When they lose, you fear for your life. Last night, the points did not fall in our favor. I didn’t see you at pick-up.
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy college football. In fact, my entire social calendar during my undergraduate years at Virginia Tech revolved around game days. It was exciting to be a part of something much larger than myself. In those stands, I believed my cheers were heard. And, if I’m honest, the losses – which are inevitable in college athletics – remained with me for many days.
But when I moved away from Blacksburg, this amazing thing happened: I stopped becoming emotionally involved in football. And, in this, I remembered S, the first coach’s wife I knew personally.
S always had a story to share, but I’ll admit that I can only recall the scary ones. Like the time a bitter fan placed a “For Sale” sign on their family’s lawn. Or the time a grown stranger made her daughter cry in the middle of a grocery store. These are the tales of a college football coach’s wife. But things don’t stay impossible for long, it seems.
Before my husband and I left Blacksburg, the backlash had finally grown teeth, and we saw S’s husband recede from the bright lights.
Unlike S, however, I see you every week. When our sons celebrated holidays in preschool, we chatted during their chaotic parties. When you visited our church, it delighted my heart. And when your mother died earlier this fall, we cried during a hallway embrace.
I suppose this is why I am writing to you, B. I’m sorry for what others are saying – for what’s already been said. The hateful remarks, the calls for resignation, the relentless attempts to dehumanize the leader of your family. Do they understand that someone has to lose?
Over the last three years, I have taught several of our university’s football players, students your husband now coaches. I believe they must feel the loss most acutely. But, then, I think of your husband – the man who mentors different players one-on-one, the man who occasionally invites them to preschool pick-up. During this adversity, B, I know it is you who keeps him striving.
From one mother to another, please let me be clear: I believe in you, and no family should have to retreat in fear. You deserve peace. And the naysayers? They don’t speak for those brave enough to see past the game.
Letter originally written on October 28, 2016