Coaches’ biggest fans also their MVPs

High school football kicks off this week for most teams in Marengo County. All eyes will focus on the field and on the coaches pacing the sidelines, calling plays, giving instruction.

To be successful, however, head coaches must have support at home. Three spouses of successful coaches in Marengo County shared what it’s like to be the wife of a coach.

Tom and Tammy Causey

Tom and Tammy Causey

Tammy Causey, wife of Demopolis High School head coach Tom Causey, knew going into her marriage 15 years ago that she would be a coach’s wife. The two met at UWA when he was an assistant coach and she was a trainer.

“In the beginning I worked more hours than he did,” she laughed.

Tammy has been with him through three coaching positions, including his eight years at DHS, which have included trips to the playoffs each year and the 5A state championship in 2009.

Her biggest job? Serving as a sounding board.

Andro Williams, who has amassed a remarkable 80-15 record at Linden High School, was already coaching at LHS when he and Telena married four years ago. A science teacher at G.P. Austin Middle School, she didn’t have any idea what she was in for.

Donna Luker, the wife of former Sweet Water High coach Stacy Luker, clued her in and told her it would seem like she was single again. “It didn’t prepare me!” Telena said.

It was no surprise to June James that her husband, Robby, had his career planned when they married 42 years ago. “I had a pretty good idea” he wanted to be a coach.

They met while students at UWA and have traveled throughout Alabama to follow coaching stints and, for two years, serving as houseparents at a Boys Ranch.

Along the way Coach James has led his teams to nine state titles, include the championship last year at the end of Marengo Academy’s perfect season.

All three women said one of the main challenges to overcome is that they are single moms during football season. Their husbands have demanding jobs from July through December.

“I try to take as much outside of football during the season off his plate,” said Tammy.

The biggest challenge June faced was “becoming accustomed to the number of hours they have to put into their jobs.” Now that their two children are grown and on their own, the demands aren’t so bad.

They have a daughter, Dana, in Foley, and son David is in Tuscaloosa.

The Williamses have a four-year-old son, Andro Jr., and Telena makes sure he gets to see his father by taking him by the field after practice. Her husband usually gets home well after their son is in bed. She often leaves his dinner in the microwave.

Andro and Telena Williams

Andro and Telena Williams

The first year was the hardest, said Telena. “I try to embrace that my husband’s not going to be home much (during football season).”

When she was pregnant, “I was praying that I wouldn’t go into labor during football season.” She didn’t want her husband to have to make the decision between her and the team. Little Andro came two days after the state playoffs.

Causey aspired to be a college coach, said his wife, but the couple decided that if they wanted a family, he should go into high school coaching.

They have two daughters, Anna, 13, and Kelsey, 11. “It’s gotten easier as the girls have gotten older.”

Tammy also makes sure the girls have time with their father. “I take them wherever he is.”

The Causeys try to keep the DHS football staff family-oriented and get the families together as often as possible during the season.

All the women also agreed the best part of being the wife of a coach is getting close to the players and their families.

The group almost becomes an extended family, said June. She gets to “see them grow up and become more confident.”

Williams agreed. “I try to make myself available” to them. She is motivated “by the love I have for my husband, the game of football and the compassion to care and provide for others. It’s not perfect, but it’s my life and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

The wives do more than sit in the stands and take care of the home and family. Each one has a tangible part in the success of the team.

Tammy organizes the weekly team church suppers the nights before games, sets up the Adopt-A-Football Player with classes at Westside and U.S. Jones elementary schools and arranges with team moms to prepare sandwiches for the team to enjoy after away games.

Robby and June James

Robby and June James

Since June teaches computers at MA, she has become the go-to person when Robby needs to post games film for other coaches to access. In the past she was cheerleader sponsor during the couple’s 14 years at Catherine Academy. “We won our little division” at cheerleader camp, she proudly shared.

Since Robby also is MA headmaster, June is called on to help wherever she can.

Andro never asks Telena to do anything, she said, but that doesn’t stop her from pitching in.

“If I see that it needs to be done, I’ll do it.” That includes helping wash uniforms, cleaning the field house and even baking goodies for the players.

“There’s an adjustment period” once the season is over, said Tammy. She and her husband have gotten involved with Coaches Outreach.

“This is our ministry,” she said. They take a summer marriage retreat with several other couples from coaching staff. “I really love it,” she added.

The Causeys try to travel to see family, but the coach also is athletic director, and spring sports can “get crazy too.” She teaches physical education at U.S. Jones and their daughters are well into athletics. Life, she said, is “definitely not boring.”

June agrees. “It keeps you young and active.”

“It keeps me on my toes,” echoed Telena.

“We spend as much time together as possible” after the season, added Telena. The family tries to travel or at least go out to dinner.

The worst part of being the wife of a coach, continued Telena, is sitting in the stands and listening to negative comments from the fans. New wives must have a thick skin, she stressed.

He’s out there working for the kids, she explained, and “I’m burning up inside.”

“There are a lot of sacrifices but a lot of rewards, too,” said Tammy.

Her husband praises everything that wives of coaches do for them. “There’s no way we could do what we do without them,” said Tom Causey. “They’re truly the backbone of what we do.”