Keith Edmonds is a 32-year veteran of teaching and school administration from Fort Wayne. He coached boys high school basketball as an assistant at Snider High School, North Side High School and was the head boys basketball coach at Elmhurst High School for 12 years, advancing to the Class 3A State championship in 2003.
This article has been long overdue and comes without one moment of trepidation as I wanted to pay tribute and honor to my best friend and constant support system for over 25 years, my wife Allison Edmonds.
The life of being a head coach can be one that is very lonely and reclusive. Yes, you get recognition for having a successful team, successful season or even if you have an outstanding player or two. But as I’ve stated, it can be lonely at the top! This is something that veteran coaches understand and can process fairly well as “part of the job” and responsibility of this chosen field.
But back to the thrust of this article…
I’ve been fortunate to be a “leader of young men” or a coach and to be quite honest, there were many times in my early years as I started to “cut my teeth” that I wanted to quit and throw in the towel. It was too frustrating to see my efforts go to waste as my first two seasons resulted in records of 2-18 and 3-17 or 5-35 overall if you’re keeping score. My wife was there for every frustrating, agonizing moment as I was moody, disconsolate and questioning what I’d gotten myself into becoming a coach. But there she was encouraging, pushing, instilling seeds of greatness back into me to move forward and achieve what God had put into me (I had no way of knowing when things were going to turn towards winning.)
As player after player came into our lives, my wife embraced, cared for, loved, chastised and more importantly ACCEPTED each player as a part of the family. Though there were some with skills that (for lack of a better word) were “deficient” ALL were allowed to make a contribution to the success of the program that I was trying to build.
Through it all, my wife was there sharing her thoughts about what I needed to do to have a TOTAL program by heading up our parent groups, cheerleaders, booster clubs or whatever I didn’t either have time for nor wanted to do because I was so focused on being a coach. I didn’t realize that these aspects were also a part of being a head coach as well. As we moved through season after season, she sat with me in film sessions, came to practices and rebounded for players who wanted to get up “extra shots” after practices and took players home after late night arrivals from games in South bend or Indianapolis
And get this: SHE NEVER COMPLAINED.
Coaches, I know that you fully understand the importance of having a good wife supporting you as you try to get this coaching thing right. So what I’m sharing in this article is not surprising to you at all. But, if you haven’t taken the time to say THANK YOU to your wife lately (especially during the times that we’re in) then do this now. I’ll wait….
Wives go through so much with us that it was beyond gratifying for me and our program to do something that had never been done in our schools history at Elmhurst High School. We advanced to the 2003 Indiana State Finals and won back-to-back Sectional Championships, which was a culmination of not only hard work for those particular teams, but for all of the many teams and players that came before them. The successful teams carried the mantle of years of development, trials, successes and failures and I must say some self-doubt of yours truly.
Allison, thank you for staying with me on this journey and hopefully I’ve made you proud to be my support system, judge, jury and WIFE as I’ve have been being your husband. I appreciated you sharing “It was fun getting to meet all of the players and their families throughout the years but something that I never got used to – and what made being a coach’s wife very difficult – was the constant criticism of what you did and how you did it on a nightly basis for those kids. You worked them hard but also loved them hard as well”.
Allison, I’ll never forget that you allowed me to do me. I know that at times it’s been tough, but through every up and down it’s been much appreciated.
Courtside with Coach Edmonds will appear every Monday at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers.