Coaching is a challenging profession. It is cutthroat, extremely competitive, and extraordinarily time-demanding. Time-demands in and around the team, the office, demands for appearances (on campus, off campus, speeches, press, etc.), on the road for matches and recruiting. Don’t forget the student-athlete calls at all hours of the day, recruiting calls, club and high school coaches calls, etc. Yes, we signed up for it; yes, we love what we do; but its a strain on the family. I am fortunate to have a wife that played collegiate volleyball to have somewhat of an understanding of all the work demands
Balance is one of the hardest parts of coaching. Family first is the priority, yet student-athletes needs or troubles seem to arise at the most inopportune time. I was texting with a student-athlete while on the beach this past winter family vacation. Fortunately, technology allows us to do so, but unfortunately too. Of course, we all say, put all technology away, but that is no longer realistic.
There are too many great coaches leaving our profession to start a family, as I know many that have made this choice. I compliment them on their decisions but also question the profession that pushes people to have to make this choice.
Today, I had the opportunity to reconnect with one of my mentors, Carolyn Condit. She was my boss for many extremely important family times of my life: engagement, marriage, and the birth of my twins. Should it not have been for her priority for me, family first, I too might not have stayed in this profession. It is easy for a head coach to have demands on assistant coaches, but Carolyn had an understanding and respect for my life. She once told me, “I not only want you to be a great coach, but an even better father”.
Carolyn allowed me flexibility with my work hours. I would get the work done, just maybe not the ‘normal’ work hours. Carolyn would take a recruiting trip on a weekend when it was best that I was home with my family. That is true servant leadership. She even hosted a wedding shower and baby shower for us. She went above and beyond. (Oh and we managed to win championships the first two years my twins were alive).
The lessons she taught me will hopefully make me a better head coach. One that is understanding, flexible, and cultivates a true family-first environment. Often it is spoken at programs, not always lived. Hopefully, these life lessons can be multiplied to other teams and professions so family really does come first.