FRIENDS! How many of us have them? FRIENDS! Ones we can depend on (cue the hip hop song by Whodini)...
On a serious note, as football season approaches I can't help but think of the friendships I made last season when my husband played for the Jags. Oh, how we will miss our Jacksonville family this year! As the wife of a professional athlete, one sacrifice you often make is the comfort of being around friends and family. If you watch reality TV and tune into shows like VH1's Basketball Wives or Football Wives, you may think wives don't get along and are more concerned with gossiping and fighting than bonding. For the women who live this life behind the cameras, developing friendships with like-minded ladies on the team is one of the most important things you'll do.
During season, our boyfriends, fiancees, and husbands spend hours upon hours working. Either they're training on the field, lifting weights, in team meetings, in position meetings, getting treatment (injuries or injury prevention), and the list goes on. Oh, and during training camp? Most teams have the guys busy from 6:45 a.m. to 8:00 or 9:00 at night. When your man does get home or have free time, he is exhausted from having a two a day (two practices in one day), and will want to watch additional film from practice on his team-supplied iPad. Furthermore, the guys get slapped with a curfew (usually 11:00 p.m.) to be back at the hotel with lights out. Speaking of hotel, during the season (even with home games) football players are required to stay at a hotel the night before (I guess to focus and prepare for the challenge ahead). No wives are allowed. Wives stay home and talk to their husbands on the phone that night...maybe giving them a quick pep talk and encouragement for the next day. I am simply setting the stage for why friendships with other football WAGS are so important!
As much as befriending other women on the team is ideal, sometimes football makes it difficult. For example, I met another football WAG last year and really clicked with her. We went out to lunch, shopped for beauty supplies and talked on the phone for a couple weeks. Just when I thought our friendship would blossom, her man was released by the Jaguars. Fortunately, he was picked up by another team but that meant they had to move across the country. Within a week, they were gone. This was in the middle of the season. We had all just gone to London and had a blast. Yeah....the business side of football. It doesn't matter. Our men can be traded or released in an instant, even with a multiyear contract. It doesn't matter. The girl I referenced earlier? Her man was on his first (year) of a three year deal. It doesn't matter!
What happens when a guy is traded or released? The family has to sell their house (unless they rented), find the kids a new school; they have to pick up and move everything. This can come expected or unexpected...most often unexpectedly. Of course this makes for a unique situation among the football wives, fiancees, and girlfriends. You think, "Should I even waste the time to get to know the other ladies? How much do I divulge about myself or our family? They could be gone tomorrow. We could be gone tomorrow." You never know. If you're blessed enough to be on the same team for a year, you could all be in different places the following year. Because of this, I am thankful for social media and the technological age we live in. I still keep in touch with my friends from Jacksonville through Instagram, Facebook and phone calls. It's not the same as face to face interaction but that's our life. We no longer cheer for the same team but hope to cross paths when our teams play each other. For the friends I made last year in Jacksonville, the relationships have surpassed my expectations. Distance aside, we've remained in contact. They flew out to my bachelorette party in Vegas and came to my wedding. We have plans to make more trips together in the future.
Enjoying life! We really had way too much fun at this game
When your "football friends" meet your college friends in Vegas
Taking random trips together (Ripley's Believe it Or Not! Museum in Orlando)
Taking trips abroad together (Bahamas)
Trying out new adventures together!
Celebrating wives' birthdays together
Celebrating husbands' birthdays together with friends & family! House parties!
Acting like Charlie's Angels together (LOL)
Yacht parties together (Team owner event)
Ladies nights out!
Celebrating Holidays together
Working out together
And the dreaded Goodbye dinners (saying goodbye to my Jax family after the season)
When distance doesn't matter & your friends travel for your wedding
We shop, attend church, concerts and children's birthday parties, host dinners, watch away games on TV, and much more together! I value the friendships I've made through football. Unfortunately, football controls how much we see each other. Football shouldn't control the extent of our friendship, but let's be real, distance changes things. I won't be able to meet up with my Jacksonville girls throughout the day anymore. My husband and I will be in Chicago this year. Florida and Illinois are kinda far apart and our schedules won't permit spontaneous trips. Naturally, the friendship takes on a different role when it goes from local to long distance. I am thankful to have met some wonderful wives who value me regardless of location, but not all football WAGS can say that. I have spoken with others who have made friends on a team, only to have that person move shortly after (due to a player being released or traded). The friendship comes to a halt at that point and they start over again. That may sound superficial to some but it's tough to explain unless you live it. Each time we move, we can only hope that the new city will have another great group of women to connect with.