Coach’s Son Tells His Wife What It Was Like


I am a coach’s son. Coach’s sons tough it out. Coach’s sons play with pain. Coach’s sons come through no matter what.

One of my former students is a coach’s son. When he was in my freshman (called that back then) English class, he and I would talk about being coach’s sons. I said I learned I could never be a coach. He said that being a coach was all he wanted to be. And he — Brian Morehouse — just became the youngest coach at any college or university level to win 600 games. 600! Of course he owes it all to freshman English.

Of course he’s being celebrated. And he’s carried all the deserved recognition with his usual modesty and without a single cliche. Honesty. Integrity. Deflected attention. Even disbelief. Through and through. And I know he never missed a game.

Me? I turned into a teacher and a poet. And Tuesday night I missed a game. I did not come through. I was to read at a special winter lecture series. I caught and kept a bug that is spreading its way through household after household. And I all but drove my wife Julie crazy first with insisting I go “anyway” and then by over and over and over saying to her how I’m letting everyone down.

“You play anyway. You can’t let down the team. Get out there.”

And so to all of you who didn’t know of the cancellation and who were at the door reading the sign, I’m sorry. And that doesn’t cut it.

Coach’s Son Tells His Wife What It Was Like

I couldn’t wait for the game
to be over. Win. Lose. I knew

what to expect: Talk. Sports pages.
Television. Radio. Even a win was

seldom good enough: “I thought they’d win
by more than that!” “Why’d your father

keep Daniels in? He was terrible.” “Yeah. but
next game?” Losing led to all their reasons why.

I’d shiver hearing “Coach blew it at the end.”
“When’s he gonna give up on that combination?”


At school I would sit in class wishing I could read:

After a win I’d only sigh. After a loss, I

would lie in bed readying my words, and
cringe as I felt my fists unfold.

–Jack Ridl
Published in Aethlon: Journal of Sports Literature

I am welcoming new sign-ups for one-on-one coaching in poetry writing held here at our home or online via Zoom or Skype. No experience needed; all levels are welcome. I always tailor the sessions to meet whatever you would enjoy working with. To set up a date and time just contact me at this link or the one above. Cost is $85 for an hour-and-a-half session or $235 for three sessions. And of course if you don’t enjoy our time together, no charge!!😊

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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection


20 thoughts on “Coach’s Son Tells His Wife What It Was Like

  1. Jack, my brother

    ….whether a curse or a blessing…you are always a coach’s son…usually the baggage is light enough to carry…

    peace ta ( the 2nd son of a 2nd son and a coach’s son )

  2. So sorry you’ve had a lousy bug Jack. May you be well on the mend by now. I really love the preliminary to the poems you offer faithfully every Thursday. I look for those pieces of commentary as much as I do the poem that follows. Thank you Jack. Get well soon!

    • Bug has hit the road. Thanks for your care. AND I am so glad that you
      appreciate the prelim stuff. That sure keeps me going, Linda. It
      sure does.

  3. Love this–especially as the daughter and wife of the coach and as a HUGE fan of Mo–your description was spot on. Hope you are feeling better!

    • Feeling much better, thanks!! And oh my, you have to carry double the weight of it all.

      So glad to hear that my description was right. I sure worked on that and worried it into type!!
      Hugs, ole dear student!

  4. I wonder if you would ever consider coaching one of my veterans- he is doing really well in court and is excited that he has opened himself up to sharing his poetry. While he was in residential treatment the VA put one of his poems in its magazine— we wants to keep it going. I will share up front he doesn’t have a lot of resources so financially I don’t think he could swing it, if need I could try to make an ask of local charities to see if they could help make this possible.

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Had I been mature enough to realize that my play affected those in the coach’s family, I might have dug deeper. This was a really interesting perspective. Hope you’re feeling better.

  6. Wow Jack. I feel this poem to my core. I am the daughter of a CPA who told her Stats professor (a mandatory class to get my teaching certificate) “I have a math block. I’ll come to every class, every help session, but I have a block.” “No such thing,” he declared. And I went to every class/help session he offered. On the bottom of my final he wrote–“I never would have believed it if I hadn’t met you.” He passed me so I wouldn’t have to take the class again. At least on a surface level I understand not measuring up to Dad’s career. All five of my children have dyslexia to some degree but their mother is in love with words–debate, poetry, dialogue, prose–the look, the sound, the taste of them. Thank you for taking the time, for mustering the courage, to breathe this one forward.

    • I am breathless. This message is overwhelming. Obviously I can’t imagine what it WAS like for you.
      And now I can’t imagine what it must be like daily to have five children all with dyslexia. What
      I am sure of is that the kids have the uncommon gift of an exceptional mother. Talk about embodying love.
      I am inspired beyond what the word is often applied to.

  7. Sure hope you are feeling better. Give yourself a hug and perhaps forgive yourself for being human…you know, the Ol’ “Everyday Forgiveness” thing that would be healing if we could begin with ourselves.

    Mis you bunches.❤️❤️❤️🙃 Sent from my iPad


  8. Aw, Jack, I’m sorry you caught the crappy bug, and I am even more sorry for the beloved friends who missed hearing you read poetry!

    Hope you are on the mend! Here, Brad is just over an ugly flu. Wishing health to all!

    XX, Jen

    • Thanks, dear Jen. We re working on a make-up date.
      Man, we miss ya.
      I had a rueful smile as I read your piece in the retiree collection
      Hugs to you two

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