Monday, January 17, 2011

Coach's Wife Shares Wisdom

By Hannah Boen
Abilene Reporter News

In 1977, Roxanne Spradlin's life looked much like a fairy tale.She had just graduated from the University of Houston, married her childhood-sweetheart-turned-collegiate-football-star and was embarking on what she called "the adventure of newlywed life."

That adventure grew into more of a hardship as she added three kids in six years, an overworked and underpaid husband, and a struggle to overcome a rocky past.

"I was raising three children while my own heart was recovering from my dad leaving when I was 13," she said. "There were many years where I was supportive on the outside, struggling on the inside."

Her story of motherhood is similar to many women today. Looking back, though, she can see a purposeful strategy that was used to raise three kids that she said she genuinely adores and strike a successful balance in her marriage.

"I have just been smitten and crazy about him since I laid eyes on him," Roxanne said of her husband, Mike Spradlin, Cooper High School's head football coach. "We met in the eighth grade at the ripe old age of 13, and we never dated anyone else. Ours is a true love story."

She never had an interest in sports, but her husband knew as a middle school student he would grow up to be a coach, she said, and it was his passion for football that influenced almost every step of her life since that eighth grade encounter, beginning with their wedding.The pair knew long before they graduated high school and attended the University of Houston together that they would get married. However, Mike insisted the wedding not come before Jan. 1, 1977. It was the day his team was scheduled to compete in the Cotton Bowl in the University of Houston's inaugural year in the Southwest Conference.

"Things before had been all about football," she said, "but even then I'm not sure I realized how much it really would affect me and my family."

The pair were married seven days after Houston's first Cotton Bowl win and soon moved to Freeport for Mike to begin his first coaching job. That move was the first of 17, Roxanne said, in 34 years of marriage. However, moving was the least of her worries as she began to have children.

Everything that was difficult about having a hardworking husband got more difficult with children, she said.

"When our children were little I was just drowning," she said. "It was just hard, managing life. It seemed unfair. Having this unavailable husband plus not having a lot of money. But I just can't complain. All I can tell you is it has been a hard road to get where I am now- a place of peace."

Just as football had dictated her wedding, she said, it had begun to shape her marriage and her role as a mother.

"Mike is very goal oriented with work, but also with life. It's crucial to believe it's more about your journey toward the goal than just reaching the goal," she said. "That's just one of the things, many things that I've learned while listening to him coach."

Just as God wired her husband to be a coach, she said, she was wired to be married to a coach. For her, it's meant being less selfish and more resourceful.

"Anyone in that situation," she said of people overwhelmed in their role as a parent, "has to learn to make a lot out of a little. You've got to quickly tend to the business of making your own fun."

She gauges her success as a parent on the people her kids turned out to be.

"I just adore them," she said with tears in her eyes. "They're good people, the kind of people I would want to be friends with."

Mike agreed that their approach to maintaining the kind of balance that creates a happy home life has had a lot to do with football.

"I always say, 'life's not all about football but football's all about life.'" he said. "It's been interesting in that we've kind of all been brought together through me coaching. Football is, I think, just great life lessons."

He said he has recognized the struggles of families with busy fathers, especially coaches, but felt fortunate to have a job that brought his family together despite having a busy work schedule. Although Roxanne attributes the balance her family has found to Mike's work ethic and life lessons, Mike said it is the other way around.

"I could not have married someone more respectful of what I do or how I do it," he said. "She is wonderful and unwavering in supporting what I do. She is a true dream."

Ultimately, Roxanne said, the way to get the most out of parenthood is to dedicate yourself entirely to your children.

"I think it's human nature to be selfish," she said, "to think first about what's most convenient or good for you. We've spent our lives pouring into our kids all our time, energy, money, everything. Now they're grown up and to see them pour themselves into others is the greatest joy."

note: Hannah Boen, a beautiful young journalist, writes for the Abilene Reporter News. Recently we spent the afternoon chatting and today she honored me with this article. She also sent me an email inviting to read a blog post she written....what can I say? I'm glowing and blushing simultaneously! Thanks Hannah, for making me feel so special.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a heartwarming post! Thank you for sharing and having a voice for football wives everywhere!!! What a wonderful relationship and marriage you two have. With two young boys of my own, it's nice to see there is a peaceful road somewhere down the line of this time consuming profession.