My name is Shaila Walker, I’ve been an official college baseball coach’s wife for almost a year and a half, and I’ve been with my coach for about three and a half years. Away from the diamond, I am a teacher by trade. I used to teach high school English, but I currently teach college English and freshman orientation at the same school where my husband coaches. Yes, I have even taught some of his baseball players. We don’t have any kids of our own yet, but we hope to be blessed with them someday. For now, our puggle ROY (Rookie of the Year) is our spoiled baby. I try to document some of my experiences as a coach’s wife in my blog Mrs. Coach Walk.
How did you and your spouse, AKA the Coach, meet? And tell us a little about your team (including the city).
My coach and I actually met on Match.com. At the time, he coached at Willamette University (NCAA Division III) in Salem, Oregon (his second coaching job), and I was working my first teaching job at a high school about 20 minutes away. We had a few laughter-filled phone conversations before scheduling our first real date. He pulled out all the stops on our first date, and we had a great time. Our first kiss was at his baseball field there.
In the time we’ve been together, my husband has worn seven uniforms. We’d been dating for three months when he returned to his hometown of Denver, Colorado, to coach a summer collegiate baseball team. That summer, he accepted a job at Kansas Wesleyan University (NAIA) in Salina, Kansas. He took over the summer team in Salina, and in the next two summers that team had two different names (North Central Kansas Knights in 2013 and Salina Blue Jays in 2014). Kansas is where we were married, and I still think of it as “home” in many ways. Now we live in Barstow, California, where he coaches at Barstow Community College (CCCAA) during the school year and the Inland Empire Bears in the summer. Every program has had something special about it, but our team at BCC is the most like a family.
What is your most memorable and worst sporting experience to date?
Most memorable: My favorite baseball experiences are actually when my husband is not coaching and we get to enjoy the games together, but I do have a few great memories from my husband’s coaching moments. When we ran the Salina Blue Jays, I was the Director of Operations and got to plan events to build excitement around the community. We had a fan appreciation night on my birthday complete with a full tailgate outside the stadium. We fed all the fans and both teams and held a raffle for team gear and an autographed baseball. To top it off, our team won on a walk-off.
Worst: For me, the most frustrating and unforgettable moment (also with the Salina Blue Jays) was when our stud pitcher threw a complete game no-hitter, and we still lost 1-0.
How does your coach motivate you? Vice versa?
Ricky is the hardest working and softest-hearted person I’ve ever met. He pours his life out for his team every day. I’ve seen him face some frustrating situations, but I’ve never seen him give up or express defeat. Seeing his passion and his drive is a great reminder for me to press on when I face challenges of my own. He’s also the dreamer, so if I have the slightest interest in trying something new, he encourages me to go for it even when my logical brain wants to ask one hundred questions first.
He says I motivate him by helping him believe in what he’s doing. I don’t ask him to give up, and I support him even when we are struggling to make ends meet. I believe his role as a coach is an important one, so I encourage him to keep at it and find ways to help us take care of the rest.
What tips can you provide to other coaching spouses?
Get involved! Find ways to get to know the athletes as people because that makes it so much easier to understand why coaching these individuals is so important to your spouse.
Have a hobby of your own. It’s easy to lose your sanity when your spouse is pouring so much into a job away from the home, but a hobby can keep you sane.
Choose to embrace this lifestyle. Fighting it is only detrimental to your marriage. Your spouse competes for a living, so make your marriage an oasis to escape from that competition.
What one word or phrase can you use to describe your uncommon life? Explain.
Unpredictable. A year ago, we were looking at homes for sale and planning to buy a home in Kansas in summer 2015. As summer 2015 approaches, we have now been in California for eight months. Friends often ask how long we plan to stay in California and where we think we will go next. There is no answer for these questions. We will go where baseball takes us, when baseball takes us there, and there usually isn’t much advance notice.
What are three things that your experience as a coach’s spouse has taught you?
- Anything is possible. If I can feed 45 collegiate athletes out of an itty bitty kitchen, anything is possible and excuses are invalid.
- How you respond to a loss is more important than the fact that you lost. The same goes for any other type of challenge or obstacle you face in life. You can’t control what you will face, but you can control how you handle it.
- A marriage is a team, and watching an example of a team on a regular basis is taught me countless lessons on how successful teams function. Applying the lessons my husband teaches his team to our marriage has made our marriage stronger.
What advice would you give to other coaching spouses?
Some of my best advice is already inherent in the tips and lessons above, but I do have one more important piece I haven’t touched on yet. Realize that a coach’s spouse can be under a microscope just as much as a coach can be. A spouse can be an asset or a detriment in a coach looking to advance in the coaching career or even looking to maintain. A coach’s reputation can rise and fall with a spouse’s reputation. Recognize the pressure, but rise to the occasion and help your coach make the most of the gifts they have been given.
I recently had a mother thank me for loving her son as she does. She lives in Las Vegas, which is one of our biggest recruiting areas, so her support can help other parents feel positive about sending their sons to our team. I know my husband has support from the community and I know I have helped develop that by supporting him.
Thank you, again, to Shaila! Her tips for the uncommon wife life are so true!
Please head on over to her blog, Mrs. Coach Walk, to see how she enjoys her wife life.
The Uncommon Wife.