by Jack Warren, AthleticOps.com editor and host of the Ops Nation podcast
In a recent discussion with one of the top collegiate operations people in the country, I asked about challenges she’s had along the way. She pointed out that a particular challenge has always been the proper work-life balance. She said she’s got a much better handle on it now, but at first it was a real struggle. When she talks to some of her young counterparts entering the field, she tries to convey some of the lessons she’s learned.
I hear these stories far too often – “Well, my wife knew what to expect when she married a coach” or “I haven’t see my kid’s baseball/softball games in three years” or “I haven’t taken a real vacation in over five years.” The bar is raised when you hear other athletic staffers and coaches talk about all the time they’re putting in. You often don’t ever feel as if you’ve done enough.
The one regret you will truly have, however, is not spending enough time with the people in your life who love you unconditionally. A championship is great. Organizational success is a needed pat on the back. The accolades are intoxicating. Frankly, down the road, none of that will matter if you kick the ball when it comes to your family and friends.
There is a four to six month period where you may not see sunshine unless you’re standing on an athletic field — and that’s sufficient reason to pack it in at the end of a hard day. However, here are a few hints to help you make this trip a little easier for you — especially when it comes to your closest loved ones.
First of all, make your family part of the program. There’s no better example of this than Tim Corbin. He said that when he married his wife she already had two daughters. He made a point of ensuring that they were part of the Vanderbilt Baseball family. There are so many ways to do this that the topic may well be its own column in the future. It’s sufficient to say, however, that one only needs to put on their thinking cap to come up with ways in which your family could be part of the program instead of just fans. Of course, this depends to a great extent on the person who calling the shots in your program — typically the head coach. It’s one thing to evaluate when looking at a new position — how “family friendly” is the program? In our recent Ops Nation interview with Jemal Griffin, he talks about the family environment that head coach James Franklin has created. Look for programs like this and don’t take it for granted if you’re in one already.
Secondly, for you control freaks out there, don’t be afraid to delegate! Of course, there are specific tasks and duties that are assigned to you, but do you have flexibility to let a student manager or intern try something new? If you have to do it all yourself, then you’re doing something wrong.
Lastly, set a regular weekly date night with your significant other – during the season! Oh, but I don’t have time! Make time. Are you kidding me? Here’s the deal: Some days are completely locked out because of scheduling. Most other days are iffy. In the collegiate realm, typically there is one designated day off (for athletes, yes, but that usually means your schedule is a bit lighter). In collegiate baseball, Mondays are often the most open days (relatively speaking). Do you think your significant other will be that concerned if your date is at 8:00 instead of 6:00? Hire a responsible student to come sit with your kids for two hours and go. And don’t be concerned with where you go. Just go. And, please, do not pull your cell phone out while you’re dining.
The bottom line is work your tail off while you’re at work and don’t feel that you have to stay on the time clock more than all of your peers. Think creatively about how you can involve your loved ones in your world. And most importantly, make (specific) time for the ones you love.