Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Different Way to Live

Between teaching middle school and coaching college football I've worked 80 hours a week since the middle of August.  It certainly leaves me tired and it doesn't leave much time for home.  Yet, I love what I do on both ends -teaching middle school and coaching college football.

The full-time coaches I work with also put in those same 80 hours.  They just do it here in the office, the weight room, the meeting room, on the phone, or tracking kids down on campus to make sure they are doing the right thing and being an upstanding member of the community.  The most recent full-time job posted here this past July with a starting salary of $35,000.  Obviously, someone held that full-time job prior to the opening.

A coach's hours are consistently 8am through 8pm from Monday to Wednesday.  Slightly less on Thursday, and if they go out and physically scout high school players on Friday night then that becomes the longest work day of the week, 8am through 10pm.  With most games played on a Saturday you are looking at coaches arriving at least 3 1/2 to 4 hours before a game.  The game takes anywhere from 3-5 hours to play.  It would be nice to say we have gone out for some beers or a bite to eat after our games, but the schedule has not really allowed for it.

If you play an away game, you are gone from home and working the entire weekend.

Sundays are not off days for us.  We work 8am through 5pm breaking down Saturday's game, grading it, and then meeting with our players, showing them the film, and then we head back to the office to break down the film of our next opponent and developing a rough sketch of a game plan.

I lay all of this out just a few hours before we head out to play our tenth game of the season.  At 3-6 we are not going to have a winning season.  At 3-6 we have a bunch college athletes who are experiencing a wide range of feelings and opinions over our lack of success.  Yet, what sticks in my mind are the men I work with here who have wives, young kids, a mortgage, and all of the bills that the rest of us have.  I hear and see the anxiety of the reality that any one of us could get fired in a week or so.  It is a very real anxiety.  We try to keep some levity, but 3-6 is 3-6.

The men I work with miss their wives, their kids, their dogs, and sometimes they just miss sitting down and drinking a beer.  We all know the reality.  We know the hours.  We know the possibilities of what success may bring us, and we know the realities of what losing will bring us.  In this job, like many others, if you are not doing great at it after a reasonable amount of time then it is time to go.

I love this job, but I'm a part-time coach here.  I have a full-time career.  I teach from 7:30-3:30 and then I coach from 4:00-8:00 or 9:00pm.

These full-time college guys, they don't have that other thing.  Being a coach IS their thing.  I know the last guy who was fired from a position here.  He has a wife and kid.  He had to fight to find something to bring money into the house.  He isn't coaching.  He will again someday, but right now he has bills to pay.  His loss created an opening for another man with a wife and kids.

As I shut my laptop and walk across the hall to the players locker room and then the coaches locker room which we share with the local roaches (who don't even blink when we walk in and turn on the lights anymore) I just want to put it out there I feel pretty fortunate to have the full-time job that I do, and I feel pretty fortunate to have this part-time job.

My bills are going to get paid whether or not a twenty year old kid makes a tackle for me or doesn't.  I have a full-time job where my value isn't in part measured by 10 or 11 games.  Ten or eleven days of the week can and will determine whether or not some men keep their jobs or some do not.  I can lose this job too if my guys don't develop and play well.  I'm just saying I don't have this part-time job as the sole thing I depend on for income.

I work with men I respect, and I can hear and see the anxiety increase as each day brings us closer to the next game.

And then it dawned on, this happens in college stadiums across the nation every Saturday in November.

It is definitely a different way to live.

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