They say that behind every great man is a great woman. Well, I say behind every high school football coach there’s an even greater woman.
It’s no secret being a football coach these days is beyond a full-time job. Coaches go to work in the morning just like any other teacher, but their day rarely ends at 3 p.m.
Long after school lets out, they’re out on the field or in their office making preparations for that week’s games. And that says nothing for when they’re physically home but mentally still on the field.
The time involved is staggering and gets even more demanding with offseason activities and practice allotments growing annually. The pay, however, stays about the same and works out to pennies per hour, if that.
And behind all of it, for the coaches who choose to get married and have a family, is the wife … taking care of the house and kids and often holding down a job of her own.
After thinking about it, I’m starting to wonder just how much credit we should give Mrs. Coach for each win, league title or playoff berth. Because there’s no way any successful coach could be that good without his wife taking the load off in terms of home life.
But I’m a man, and that’s how we think. As I was reminded, however, by Nancy Farrar, the wife of longtime Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar, women don’t usually view things in terms of wins and losses.
“It goes beyond the wins and learning how to play the game of football,” she said. “I believe in the work these coaches are doing. It has enriched our family’s lives, and I think it would have done so whether it was 0-10 every year or CIF championships.”
The Farrars have been married for 41 years. Nancy said she knew exactly what she was getting into when she married Big Lou, but it was a generational thing that made it easy for her to realize football came first.
Some women may not be so lucky these days because admittedly this generation is different. So Farrar has some sage advice to any would-be coach’s wife.
“There doesn’t need to be a choice between family and coaching,” Farrar said.
“The family can be integrated into the process. Just enjoy it. I’ve seen young women who make it a choice, and it doesn’t have to be that way.”
An example of a coach who’s decided to integrate the two is Arroyo’s Jim Singiser, whose 7- and 13-year-old daughters can’t seem to get enough of the gridiron.
“I think the thing that’s huge is my wife likes football,” Singiser said.
“And now that my daughters are getting older, everything to them is eye candy. I’m looking for the exit door and they’re saying, `You can’t retire.’ My wife says, `You’re not retiring because the girls are having too much fun.’
“They want me on the sidelines because they want to be a part of it. They don’t care about eligibility or wins and losses. Honestly it’s neat, because at the end of the Hart game (a 44-3 loss), they give you a hug and kiss and it’s on to the next week. They’re fairly therapeutic in that way.”
Whether the family is integrated, the bottom line remains that most coaches often put other people’s kids above their own. They don’t do it for money. They don’t do it for fame. They do it to make a difference. And behind the scenes, Mrs. Coach is picking up the slack.
These days you can find proof of society’s deteriorating moral compass anywhere you look, but if you want to find examples of the opposite the guy wearing the headset on Friday night and the little lady up in the stands rooting him on are great first places to look.