Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hanging up the Whistle

The summer before my Senior year one of the greatest men I ever knew gave me some advice.

We were at the city pool at a church pool party, and I was complaining about being bored.

He told me to enjoy my time, every minute, because it flew by, and that those were the best days of my life.

Dr. Todd was wrong, though. As good as my Senior year was, it wasn't the best days of my life.

I'm slowly coming to the realization that the best days of my life are right now.

This moment.

It's taken me a while to realize it... and time really does fly.

And if you blink... well, you've missed it.

And who wants to miss out...

Miss out on middle schoolers whose uniforms were mismatched and whose shorts were so big they had to be doubleknotted? Of tournaments played when we walked in the gym and the other coach said, "I'll take it easy on you" and we went on to win the whole shebang? Of mean little boys trying to act like men?

Miss out on sleepovers at the Bates house when we won freshman districts... when I stayed at Mom's because there was literally no room in our single wide. Popcorn and movies and Papa John's, stories of time outs and laughter and a coach who may or may not have acted as mature as the players?

And then... somehow... it all changed.

"I don't know how to coach girls. You yell at them and they cry... and there is so much drama!"

But there was also big sisters for Caleb. Hugs and laughter.  Thinking we needed to whip a couple of boyfriends who were treating our girls mean.

Cries of "Don't wake the Bull" and Wallace sleeping on the floor of the bus and "Bates, make him quit touching me!!!" 

Memories of a little boy, glasses brand new, peering down at the middle of the gym floor  and saying, "Mommy, why is Daddy in the middle of the floor?" (Because that's where he always is. He doesn't believe in a coach's box). Of cars lined up all the way down a bleacher and  of little legs hurrying down the steps and sprinting across the floor so he could be in the middle of the huddle to say "1-2-3 team!"

Memories of slip n slides in college dorms and firetrucks and net cutting. Memories of looking in the stands to see girls writing Caleb's spelling words.  Too many memories to put into words... so I'll just share a few glimpses...







Almost my entire married life I've been a coach's wife. I've often said it's part of my calling. Over the years, I'd like to think we have both mellowed out. I have a whole lot more Jesus than I did when we started, although there have been times when I could  have used more! I've truly been blessed to have gotten to know hundreds of kids... kids who have gone on to become teachers, physical therapists, nurses, social workers, doctors... kids who have had kids of their own and are raising them with a love for the game... kids who impact our society in a positive way on a daily basis.

Coaching is a labor of love. Being a coach's wife, I'd like to think, is even more so... but it's been my honor to do so. I love high school sports... if you go back through my archives you'll see I write about them often. There's a beauty to the game at this age... it's often pure heart and soul. My love won't change, because it's something that has been passed down throughout generations... from my Papaw to my Mom to me.

In closing, as my last post as a coach's wife (for this season  of life... who knows what a few years will bring... we've done this break thing and it only lasted a couple of years, but we ARE getting older... but I'll NEVER SAY NEVER because the last time I did we ended up right back in a gym...)

To MY kids... my Owls and Lady Owls and Lady Tigers and Lady Cats...

Thank  you for sharing your lives with us. Thank you for loving Caleb. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for tolerating Wallace.

Thank you for smiles and hugs and sometimes tears. Thank you for these memories that I will hold dear in my heart... when Wallace and I are old, sitting at home on our front porch watching the sunset (ok... that will NEVER happen. Wallace can't sit still!) we'll be talking of you. Laughing at memories of practices and games and things you said and did...

Thank you for giving me hope... being around teenagers, while at times full of drama and totally exasperating... also keeps us young.

To all those other kids... kids like Savannah Noe, Natalie Watterson and Hannah Cash from Lee Co., Katie Moore and Shelby Sparks from Leslie, Maci Gibson from Owsley, Whitney Creech from Jenkins, Kayla Rankin from Perry Central, Kristin Waugh from Knott, Lydia, Edith, Haley, and Desiree from Wolfe, Haley Badarack from Riverside... (and, of course, my Kendall Marie... whose Dad has inspired my thinking so much over the last 20 years since he said those words to me as you and Kami and the gang were in the kiddy section...)

too many to name over the years...

Thank you for allowing me to enjoy watching you play basketball. Though I may have cheered against you in tournaments, I will always remember your grace, finesse, hustle, and heart... and you (along with MY GIRLS) just cemented my love for the sport.

Thank you to all of our media who cover the Ladycats with due diligence.

Thank you to  our fans, the parents who have shared your kids with us, the band and the cheerleaders...

And to steal from one of my favorite authors, Thank you, God, for these you have given me for this season. May they be as blessed as they have made me feel. 

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