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coach and players on sidelines of a middle school football game Mindy Ward
SIDELINE SUPPORT: As my son-in-law, Jared Kilpack, walks the sidelines of a middle school football game, my daughter sits in the stands.

From farm life to football coach’s wife

Growing up on the farm prepared my daughter to handle long days and harsh critics.

My daughter married a music teacher. But for those of us living in small towns, we know teachers in rural schools wear many hats. So, she also married a football coach.

Let me clarify: Her husband is the assistant middle school football coach. What does that entail? Well, there are nightly football practices, sometimes on weekends. There are weekly games, and oh yes, because you are a middle school coach, you also come to the high school football games as a spotter in the press box.

Being a coach, no matter the level, takes a great deal of commitment by both the coach and a coach’s wife. Over the course of this football season, I’ve noticed one thing about my daughter — growing up on the farm prepared her for this moment.

Sacrifice required

Now, before you start sending emails, my daughter has a successful career of her own. No, her husband does not require her to do anything. She chooses.

My girl gets up, goes to work and then drives 45 minutes to a home game, or sometimes 1½ hours to an away game to sit in the bleachers for another two hours. In all, it may be a 12- to 13-hour day. And that is just for the Tuesday middle school games. She sacrifices newlywed Friday date nights for football under the lights. But growing up on a farm prepared her for these days.

In junior high, she would get up, do a barn check, go to school, then cheer at a football game — only to come home and head back to the barn to feed sheep. By the time high school came around, she added FFA, a cappella choir and student council into the mix.

Growing up on the farm conditioned her to withstand long days and late nights. Sure, there were times she sacrificed hanging out with friends because lambs were being born. But growing up on the farm taught her the sacrifice was worth outcome.

And the outcome of her sacrifice as a coach’s wife is being an amazing support system.

Mindy Wardselfie of Mindy Ward and daughter Cassidy in the stands at football game


STILL SMILING: It’s amazing to watch your child enter adulthood and tackle every challenge — even being a coach’s wife. My girl Cassidy travels to every small-town football game whether to watch her husband coach from the sidelines or scout from the press box. Her commitment makes me smile.

Silence for the naysayers

A coach must have thick skin. After only one season, I’m a firm believer that a coach’s wife must have even thicker skin.

Not everyone is going to like the coach. Parents or students may voice their displeasure at the games, on social media or even to a news station. My daughter remains silent. After all, being raised in the show ring taught her to have grace under pressure.

She’s stood in a national show ring where a judge harshly critiqued her animal for an entire audience to hear. She’s walked down the barn aisle listening to those who criticized her for winning too much or her family for being too involved.

She learned at an early age that not every judge will like your stock. Not every exhibitor will like your family, but you stand tall. It is only one opinion. Ultimately, only God’s opinion, your family's opinion and your own opinion matter.

So just when you think your kid — who moved to the city — will never use his or her rural roots, take heart. Those childhood lessons learned on the farm reappear in adult life — no matter where they live, what they do for a living or who they marry.

My bonus thoughts

A tip of the hat to all coaches and coaches’ wives for your commitment to young people in rural Missouri. It is not an easy task. It takes a special person to sacrifice their personal and family time to invest it in the kids. So, thank you.

And to those of you in the stands or on social media letting loose on a coach, please remember this is someone’s son or daughter, husband or wife, dad or mom, brother or sister, daughter-in-law or son-in-law. Be kind.

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