WEATHERFORD—Cari Trotter is a coach’s wife. Her husband, Toby, is in his fourth year coaching the defensive backs for the Southwestern Oklahoma State University football team.
Even before they started dating, Toby was coaching at Louisiana College in Alexandria, La. That changed at his next coaching stint, Southern Nazarene University, where Cari and Toby met, dated and eventually married.
“For me, the early years of coaching and being a coach’s wife were simple and so fun,” Cari said. “I am a coach’s daughter, so most of what we dealt with in those early years I had a small sense of understanding just from what I had navigated through with my family growing up.”
In November, Toby and Cari will celebrate 10 years of marriage. Knowing the pressures of winning ballgames is commonplace, but the last six years also have included raising children. Cari said she recognizes the increase of responsibilities and activities to juggle as their coaching family has grown.
“However,” said the mother of three, “there is also so much more joy in sharing the lifestyle of influence for Jesus that we are building as a coaching family with our children.”
The Trotters are faithful members of Weatherford, First. They teach a Sunday School class for college students, and Cari also has led several small group Bible studies for young ladies who are SWOSU students.“We are fortunate to be surrounded by incredible support from both friends and family,” Cari said. “It has been awesome to see how we have grown in the Lord as we have had to lean on Him like never before to take care of all the details it takes to maximize our influence as a coaching family.”
Influence is always an attribute of coaches, as well as a coach’s wife. All couples have to deal with pressures of everyday life. The pressure a coach experiences is increased when his work is under popular scrutiny, especially in a smaller community, on Saturdays in the fall. Sometimes, the results are not pleasant.
“Nothing will cement humility in your hearts or the desperate dependence you have on God as a coaching family like sitting alone with two of your kiddos at a game you are losing and hearing fans yell harsh words,” Cari said. “I have reached out many times for the wisdom of my mom, who was a coach’s wife for more than 30 years. She has been an incredible source of encouragement and reminded me to lean heavy and hard on the joy of the Lord.”
Cari remains resilient. She is there in the stands with her family and friends wearing blue and white and cheering on the Bulldogs.
“What happens at the game is a mere reflection of everything my family, my husband and the team has experienced all week,” she said. “The great part about game time is that we all get to share in it and cheer them to victory!”
The grasp Cari has of what her husband does is great. She happily shares about a time Toby had a deep discussion in his office with one of his players, and after the lengthy conversation, leading the young man to Christ.
Cari also knows coaching involves an incredible amount of soul-draining hours watching game film and holding team meetings, as well as going through conditioning, practices, writing and rewriting play script to get x’s and o’s right.
So how does Cari, as a coach’s wife, support Toby in such situations?
“We stay desperate and dependant on the Lord,” she said. “Desperate and dependant. It is not easy to be an influential coaching family. There are a lot of sacrifices that everyone has to make. But no matter what we face, be it financial strain, the tension of a loss, knowing how to handle the praise of victory with humility and grace, the long draining hours of balancing family life and work life, maintaining intimacy in our marriage or finding the joy in all we do, it ALL comes back to the Lord.
“We could not do anything we do without His extravagant grace in our lives,” she said. “When we keep that reminder as the forerunner to all emotions, we are able to stay steady in our support emotionally, mentally, physically and, most importantly, spiritually.”
Along with growing in faith and trusting in the Lord, Cari also knows it’s important to take time to laugh.
“No matter what, whether we win or lose, laughing keeps your feet on the ground and not taking life too seriously,” she said. “We are constantly reminded that God is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. There is great comfort in knowing that no matter what we navigate through as a coaching family, that constant never changes. God is always the same.”
As the season continues for the Bulldogs, coach Trotter will do his best to prepare the secondary to compete. He also knows through it all Cari is there to support him. His life is enriched.