Behind the Whistle: Beyond the Field


This story initially appeared on Behind the Whistle, the official blog of the IWLCA, and is being republished with permission from the organization. Maureen Spellman is the head coach at Endicott College.

Pride Month is upon us once again, and I can’t help but think about how proud I am of everything I have in my life.

I’m proud of the life I’ve built with my wife. I’m proud of the little house we’ve built in this cool college town, and I’m proud of the work I do at Endicott. That pride for me stretches so far beyond the field that I forget sometimes my job is to actually win games.

Proud moments for me come when my players speak up for themselves, or bravely tell me exactly how they are feeling about a certain decision, especially when it’s an unpopular one. Proud moments happen when players who decide to move on from the game still continue to call me or show up in my office just to chat or get some “adult advice.” The relationships we build as coaches stretch so far beyond the field that we question sometimes what our role actually is.

For me, that role is mentor, confidant, and that annoying person who keeps suggesting they start an investment account rather than buying another bathing suit online. 

I’ve had a few incredible moments as a coach, and very few of them are during games. Wedding invitations from former players, being asked to speak about a player at a major event or watching a former player’s Commissioning Ceremony are some of those incredible moments. 

Most incredible and humbling for me is being the person someone comes out to or feels comfortable enough to ask about how to navigate those tough conversations with their parents. I’ve never been prouder of the “work” that I do than when moments like this present themselves. It’s affirmation that we as coaches truly make a difference. We can inspire, we can build trust and loyalty, and we can influence in a truly positive way. 

This month, whether you celebrate pride or not, be proud of the work you do beyond the field. It matters more than you know, and you’ve influenced more people than you think.

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