News Articles

Wife joins football coach husband in sense of call to young people

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–While football traditionally remains a male-dominated game, the success of the team could very well depend on a woman — the coach’s wife. She garners far fewer moments in the spotlight than her husband but is immediately recognized by the team’s followers. She also feels the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat just as much as her husband.
At least that is the type of coach’s wife Linda Anderson strives to be. Anderson, wife of Vestavia Hills High School head football coach Buddy
Anderson, describes her role as a calling.
The “calling” did not become apparent to her until a couple of years into their marriage, however. “Buddy always told me he was called to be a football coach and, at first, I did not understand what that meant,” said Anderson, who is a Ready to Learn training specialist with Alabama Public Television. But after attending a national Fellowship of Christian Athletes conference in Black Mountain, N.C. — a yearly event for the Andersons — she felt a similar calling.
“That week as I listened to more than 900 athletes singing, strong arms embracing shoulders, my eyes glistened with tears as I heard God say, ‘This is why I called Buddy to be a coach, and I’m calling you, too, to a special ministry. I need you to support, to love, to open your home for [FCA] Huddle meetings. … I want you to have the kind of Christian home that will be an example to young men and women,’” Anderson recalled.
And, so for 25 years the Andersons have opened their home every Wednesday night for FCA Huddle meetings. Sometimes there are as many as 60 teens; other times there are as few as five. But providing a safe haven and a Christian example of a loving and accepting family to whomever comes is what it is all about, noted Anderson, who has an undergraduate and graduate degree in elementary education from Samford University in Birmingham.
“Our schools are rough places to be, and kids are under the most tremendous pressures imaginable,” she said. “They need us all behind them.”
Society puts tremendous pressure on people to win, but those football players need to know they are accepted whether they win or lose, Anderson said.
While Coach Anderson knows about winning — 176 wins to 75 losses, including this year’s state championship, winning the Dec. 4 title game 10-7 over Mobile’s Vigor High School, and the 1980 state championship — the Andersons know that losing could come just as quickly.
“We have to teach kids that life has ups and downs, and we may stumble, but we don’t have to bring others down with us,” Linda Anderson said. “We need each other. We need a close community pulling toward the same direction.” And with a 27-year stint at Vestavia Hills — 21 years as head coach — Coach Anderson has influenced hundreds of young men both on and off the field about successfully weaving through the ups and downs of life.
It is that consistency in one place Linda Anderson believes has allowed them to build relationships and plant seeds of the Christian faith.
“Many have come to know the Lord in our den (during FCA meetings),” she said. “That is an awesome and humbling experience.”
Those life-changing experiences are some of the glory moments that come along with the hard work, stress and pressure of coaching.
“It’s not easy being a coach’s wife,” said Anderson, who has been both parents at times for their three daughters. “It is very lonely,” she said, noting her husband works around 100 hours per week. Along with his duties as head football coach, Coach Anderson also oversees more than 20 sports as Vestavia Hills High School as athletic director. Coach Anderson also teaches ninth-grade Sunday school — off-season, of course — and is a deacon at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham. Members at Shades Mountain for 16 years, the Andersons remained active in church despite the time strains that come with football.
It is a balancing act, but Linda Anderson strives to make it work. “Sometimes it gets frustrating when you have a husband who is never home for dinner,” she said. But she defeats those frustrations through family traditions — Saturday afternoon dates, family night, meeting dad at the gate three minutes before the game.
“In any profession, the wife is a vital part of her husband’s success or failure,” Linda Anderson said. A wife’s support comes through physically being present at events such as a husband’s football games, mentally and emotionally encouraging her husband and taking up the slack in household chores when he can’t be there, she noted. She also works hard to keep confidentiality in all matters, whether it be with her husband, her children or one of the team members.
“I try to remember that I am a representative of Christ and my husband in the community,” she said, noting a coach’s life is similar to living in a fish bowl. “It is not easy. In fact, it is difficult and challenging. There are a lot of ups and downs.”
Still, the glue that has held the Andersons together and allowed them to shine brightly in the community is Christ. “In such a tumultuous profession, Christ is the only thing that could have held us together,” Linda Anderson said. “The sports world is a big deal no matter if it’s Little League or the NFL.”
And when the team loses, friends are often scarce, she noted. But she strives forward by focusing on what is really important. “It feels real good to win,” she said. “But I’m smart enough and wise enough to know that we may lose tomorrow.”

    About the Author

  • Jennifer Davis Rash