Texas high school football is huge. Even bigger is the spirit and fortitude of a Texas high school football coach’s wife. The Friday night show requires a lot of behind-the-scenes support. Coaches’ wives are the stage managers; making sure the show goes on without a hitch. An important role of a stage manager is to assist the director. Their unyielding backstage support is crucial to the directorial success on any gridiron stage.
The obvious downside to football season, as a coach’s wife, is the amount of time the coach is away from home. The actual time, however, is not as publicly known.
According to Brandi Mann, wife of a Rouse High School coach, the average fan doesn’t realize that a coach can spend up to 143 hours a week, including Saturdays and Sundays, on football-related activities. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for the zoo or date night.
Heidi Brittain, wife of a Cedar Park High School coach, explains how the issue of time affects her relationship with her husband. “The more we are apart, the more I feel distant from him,” she says. They catch up on Saturday nights and attend church on Sunday mornings. “Attending church and being grounded spiritually help me to remember that coaching is a mission field and not just a job,” she adds.
Attempting a once-a-month date night is how Katie Schmidt, wife of a Cedar Park High School coach, and her husband stay connected. Brandi and her two sons spend a lot of time at school and regularly attend practices. Elizabeth Jackson, wife of a Frisco Heritage High School coach, wrote a book called “Poems, Prayers and Peanut Butter: A Year of Encouragement for Coaches’ Wives,” during her alone time.
Some coaches’ wives feel the pressure of bearing the sole responsibilities of the family and home. Being a seasonal single parent requires a large hat rack. Carrie Bresnehen, wife of a Rouse High School coach, sometimes feels like “ ... I am responsible for it all.” She finds that as her children get older, things get a little easier.
Channa Norman, wife of an Irving Nimitz High School coach, has a saying: “You just do what you have to do.”
Criticism toward their husbands is also another speed bump on the road to keeping it together during football season. Negative comments from parents are difficult to hear when their husband spends more time with their kid than his own.
This group of special women has discovered solace and celebration in each other’s company and support. They regularly get together before and after games; have girls’ nights out; attend Coaches’ Outreach marriage conferences; join coaches’ wives associations; and vacation together.
While the negatives of this lifestyle have their impact, it’s clear that the positives knock down any hurdles these women face. A common joy for these women is seeing how their husbands have positively influenced the players. “I love watching him coach and seeing the difference that he makes in the lives of so many kids,” says Carrie.
“Sometimes he is the only disciplinarian for that kid. Literally, one time, he grounded a kid from his car,” Brandi explained. The player had a single mother who had trouble controlling him. The mother asked Coach Mann to step in.
Though they struggle to fit in “me time,” these ladies wouldn’t trade this life for anything. For Katie and her husband, meeting and getting to know the parents and players has evolved into lifelong friendships. The Manns love their life of football. “I am living my dream life in every way,” Brandi said.
Former Alabama coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant said, “There ought to be a special place in heaven for coaches’ wives.”
These women make things pretty special here for the director and stars of the Friday night show with their endless enthusiasm and tireless encouragement.