Real talk: football spouses

Coaching, More than Football

I am a football coach and I am a woman who has a very understanding spouse.

We go through many of the same things as my colleagues … sacrifices of:

  • regular quality time
  • money
  • household standards
  • vacations

My spouse supports my goals. He used to even carry my football bag after games. 🙂

I have a full-time job outside of the school in addition to coaching, but my dream is to work on the field professionally someday. Thankfully, we both like rotisserie chicken for dinner and we both really love football.

Mrs. Vogt, a football spouse, gives this perspective:

 

Coaching isn’t an easy profession. Being in a relationship with one of us isn’t always easy. 

While football is the perfect iceberg – what you see on Friday is less than 10 percent of what’s really going on – I think that there are a few areas that directly translate from football to creating a better life:

Laundry.

Football is laundry warfare: grass-stains, blood, sweat, boogers, baked-in sweat, mud, Gatorade, paint and more. If you’ve ever wondered what takes so long on Fridays … most of the staffs I’ve worked on do laundry together after games. Most football coaches are fairly talented when it comes to non-delicates.

If laundry drives you crazy, create quality family time by making it into a game. Fold together and catch up. A friend of mine assigns his kids to a laundry basket to manage on their own – he and his wife supervise. (cheers!)

Strength.

Most of the us are still obsessed with the gym.

I cannot physically do everything I did as a player, and I hate it, but lifting heavy weights makes me feel like I once did on the field. It also clears my mind, helps me sleep, and eases my overall stress.

Encourage (and go with) your spouse to the gym. Try lifting heavy weights (PSA: great for long-term bone loss prevention for women). Run. Do yoga. Take your kids to the park and play tag. Whatever makes you happy and works for you … but the adage that sweating together helps us stay together is a universal truth whether it’s a team workout or your relationship.

Plans.

Coaches have a week of practice meticulously calculated at least seven days out.

This includes a comprehensive battle plan against our next opponent, adjustments, new plays, and drills to sharpen skills. We track water breaks.

We can all better prioritize family and spouses during the season. We can bring our kids to practice to give our spouses a break. We can host meals or potlucks to create a support system for coaching families. We can mark birthdays and anniversaries on the calendar and help each other make those special, in and out of season. (I think this goes double for the single coaches who tend to get left out.) We can invest in each other’s lives when things are good the way we tend to when they’re not.

Details. 

We watch and grade film every week.

We look at feet, hands, body position, decision-making, ball placement, speed, angles.

We break down our film and opponents. We know the starters, subs, and tendencies in each phase. We pour over film, go back to old game plans and playbooks, call trusted colleagues current and past, watch college and pro games on the weekend (a true goldmine of play and formation ideas and generally the bulk of what we talk to each other about that’s not work), literally anything that might give us an advantage.

We don’t leave any stone unturned. We discuss our plan many times.

We can channel this energy into plotting better success in our personal relationships. We need to do a better job understanding and communicating with each other about what makes us happy and plan to do more of it. We can give extra effort and whip up the same google calendar and spreadsheets to be intentional about our family, kids and spouses. Make a family battle plan.

Love.

Coaches love have huge hearts. Even the most intense men I’ve ever known were motivated by a desire to serve.

Loving people is heart-breaking and hard. In a perfect world, we have players and families who care, support of administrators, enough money to do what we need, a plethora of volunteers, a dedicated coaching staff, positive media coverage, great success in teaching skills and concepts, and a winning record.

If we lose a kid … to drugs, suicide, a fight, jail, a bad decision, or a tough family situation … or we can’t get through to them, we feel guilty, powerless, mad.

In the coaches office, we get to be removed from a thousand opinions, red tape and hard realities. We all want to be better for our families, communities, ourselves … so we keep going back to what we know – working the details, making a plan, coaching the kids, trying to stay on track.

I always feel the best when my spouse shows up to games and important functions. I always know at least one person has my back no matter what happens. Celebrate the wins and remind us of your love when it doesn’t go our way. Hold us accountable to making life outside of football just as important, strong, detailed, planned and clean.

No matter what, always lead with your heart.

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January recruiting tips from #AFCA19

More than Football, Recruiting Tips & Tricks

For a second year, I had the opportunity to go to the AFCA’s annual convention – a gathering of some of the top high school, college and professional football minds – to expand my knowledge, network and reflect on my passion for the game.

Between my conversations with coaches in San Antonio and my experience with athletes who’ve been part of the process and moved on to huge college / pro careers, I put together a few good recruiting tips that build on – surprise – things football teaches:

Always present yourself to the best of your ability and follow up with polite persistence and gratitude. Do the little things better than anyone.

One of those is to use social media for recruiting. Most players know they should have an account with their actual name, which can help coaches find out more about them. Most programs and coaches now have social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Follow ones of interest as a first step.

One coach told me using direct messages can be effective in recruiting. While sliding into DM’s on social media have proven risky for some, NCAA D1 and D2 coaches can direct message recruits during a prospect’s junior year. This may also give you another opportunity to contact a coach or program and for them to see your pitch.

As with texting, if you send a few messages and you don’t hear anything … re-evaluate your strategy. Send an email, call the recruiting office, text, mail a letter, google and find someone you know who knows someone on the coaching staff, go on an unofficial visit.

Assuming you are a good fit (or could be) for that program and school, your PERSISTENCE might pay off. I got my first coaching job simply by making the effort to follow up with a guy who told me to call him. Who knows how this will pay off for you.

Directly from FBS coaches at AFCA … here are three other gems: 

  1. Pin your best one play from a varsity game, not your full hudl recruiting link, to your twitter account and send coaches a link to this one play.  Demand their attention. Keep it short. Make those seconds count.Use this link in emails, texts, DM’s, Instagram stories, Facebook, Twitter … present your case fast.
  2. Use photos and quick quality videos to capture measurables.We are a “see to believe” society and in recruiting that’s because anyone can and does try to get an advantage … and coaches have been burned.

    Examples could be: height, weight, weightroom big lifts or achivements, transcript, test scores, 40 time. You don’t have to post everything publicly, but think about using these assets to pitch yourself in a DM or put them together in a short YouTube link in your profile.

    Showcase on your social account or find ways to pitch to coaches what otherwise makes you unique – volunteer work, leadership, hobbies, personal stories, references who might vouch for you and know them well, etc. Keep it short, but often, you can catch a break by going the extra mile. Sound familiar?

    Even if you’re the prototypical recruit on the field, remember academics MUST stay a priority. Often, just a few points difference in your GPA is thousands of dollars in scholarships … or the difference between you and someone else with better grades even being evaluated.

  3. Be careful with social media. We all know the horror stories, but there are subtle things to keep in mind to make social work for you.As you post as a prospective college football player, think about these questions:

    What is your personal brand as a recruit? How does your social media reflect it?
    How can you be authentic, but positive, with what you post, like and share?
    What would help coaches / future teammates determine if you were a good fit?
    How does your account make you a better teammate / leader to your current team?
    How does what you post add value to the world and tell your story?

    In this vein, the smartest observation from a college football coach I heard was about time of day for recruits to post.  If you are up on Twitter or Instagram in the wee hours of the morning or during school … what does that say about your commitment to rest / recover? What does that say about your commitment to your grades and ability to focus?

    As Coach Derek Jones so aptly points out: “Everything you do in life is an interview … you never know who is watching or what they are looking for.” 

Share your recruiting tips … everyone wins when dreams come true in the form of college scholarships, playing opportunities, expanded worldviews, and the love of the game. Best of luck to all!

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Family ties

Gratitude Improves Attitude, More than Football

I started coaching football in 2010.

As with many things in life, it was a headfirst leap. I was hired at the end of the week and reported to practice on Monday.

That year was full of highlights: great kids, important mentors and stories I’ll never forget, but one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned was off the field.

We were fortunate to have a booster club who wanted to provide team meals on Wednesday nights after practice. Like clockwork, a spread of hot lasagna and garlic bread and cold salad, drinks and dessert appeared in the field house. Just as quickly, it disappeared.

During this time, I learned that the same stupid fart jokes that were funny 20 years ago were still pretty relevant. I tried to keep conversation more productive as I met with the offensive line to look at plays or quiz them on assignments.

…….

One day, one conversation ended with an off-handed comment from a freshman: “Thanks mom.”

Taken a bit by surprise, I fired back: “You know I’m not your mom, and I’m sure she’d be disappointed to hear you said that.”

I’ll never forget his response: “Well, she died … so I’m not really sure what she’d think.”

 

Talk about a gut punch.

 

I’m not sure what weak apology I managed to blurt out, but I felt like I ran the jerk store.

I still do when I think about moment.

…….

Football creates a family for all of us, in different ways.

As a young coach, I fought the idea that kids would look at me like a parent.

Now I understand that they need it sometimes … for different reasons. All of us come from different circumstances and start with a unique mix of support, dynamics, resources and challenges.

Our job as coaches varies … but rarely is it just how to play a game. We give advice, create relationships, help set standards, build a leadership mindset, share in tough times, celebrate big life moments, and many crazy and wonderful things in between.

The educators I work with do the same thing for hundreds daily.

 

I could never apologize enough for my flippant remark, but I have used that experience to get to know my players, by listening more and talking less.

This moment helped crystallize the great advice I saw once on a church billboard: “be kind, for everyone is fighting a tough battle.”

Football is family, after all.

Lessons in Gratitude

Gratitude Improves Attitude, More than Football

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In October, I spoke during a morning character education class about gratitude and why I’m grateful to coach (catch up on the story in my post about this website).

At the end of class, I asked the players to write a thank-you note to someone who has influenced their lives, and include what the opportunity to play football has meant to them.

Early this week, I picked these notes up and am again moved by their contents.

 

We absolutely must stay focused on the critical developmental role we have in our players’ lives — as coaches, and as a community. Here are just a few of the most powerful player sentiments:

“I’m the first one in my family to play football. I will remember all the coaches. Each has impacted me in some way – I don’t think I can ever pay them back, other than becoming the football player and the man they hope I will be.”

“Without football, I feel like I would be with the wrong people, going down the wrong road in life. This team is my life.”

“What I love about the game is that I can escape from everything. I go through a lot, and the few hours I have of football makes me forget everything else.”

“Football is a release. It give me a chance to leave all my problems behind, and to just go have fun. This team has given me more than I imagined I would ever receive. It has given me a family I can trust, and that means so much to me.”

“Playing football this year has given me an experience I didn’t have before in my life. I’ve never felt so close to a group of people in my life – where we grew together to better ourselves.”

Feel free to use the idea to get to know your players better, or by making cards available to help players spread the love by giving cards to teachers, parents, supporters, program sponsors, other coaches.

In my experience, sharing our gratitude can be our most powerful opportunity to connect.

(On that note …. Email me if you need help with a thank-you note template. Pro tip: print on heavy cardstock and cut with a paper cutter. No need to buy retail cards, and you can do something great for your community while continuing to build programs that support life skills and a closer family culture.)

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