Pigskin Princess #3: Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Ball Carrier

Written By: Dawn - Nov• 08•12

When I watch Survivor I always wonder about the women’s beauty habits. Sometimes their hair looks like it’s been combed. I know mine would be a tangled mess of epic proportions. So how exactly do those girls on Survivor do it? The world may never know.

The idea of having a beauty routine for coaching football is futile, but it isn’t so much about beauty as it is about grooming. The male coaches and I all had to make adjustments in our grooming habits during the season, especially during June through mid-September when we practiced in temperatures that ranged from 108 degrees to 90 degrees even with the sun down.

If you know me, you know that I’m a girlie-girl, a fashionista, a Carrie Bradshaw fan. In other words, I’m high maintenance. I’ve always know this about myself, but I also knew I couldn’t bring that girl to the field if I wanted to be taken seriously by the players or my fellow coaches.

Our Arizona heat eliminates the need and ability to look good on the field. The unspoken dress code for football is that you wear Husky Football gear. Thankfully the booster club gave us plenty of T-shirt options. Obviously as a woman, I had an additional need in the garment department and I soon discovered  how thankful I was for the Under part of Under Armor.

My rule of thumb for practice attire went like this- can I sweat like a pig in it? Some garments are easier to sweat in than others it turns out. Part of the football wardrobe included a Husky baseball cap. I figured out that my best option for my long hair was a pony tail or bun on top of my head. Function, not glamor was my rule of thumb.

There are no shortcuts in football. Coaching, while not as physically demanding as playing, is hard on your body. In the heat your body works on overdrive to stay cool and hydrated. Sweat would drip down my back after about three minutes on the field and it didn’t stop until I got in my air-conditioned car to drive home.

I’m not sure there’s enough room here to list all the adjectives that describe how we, coaches and players alike, smelled. Just take my word for it- nasty beyond belief.

During summer we practiced two evenings a week, very manageable since I was off work. When school began and practice shifted to six days a week, looking good became a challenge. Being clean and showered was a challenge. The energy it took to be clean and showered was non-existent.

Presentable became the new standard for grooming. I stayed on top of brushing my teeth and wearing clean underwear, but other things I let go because they didn’t matter.

One of the nice aspects about spending twenty hours a week on a football field is that what you look like is not part of the agenda. As a woman this concept felt unfamiliar at first, but I quickly adapted. The less I thought about how awful I looked and smelled, the less it bothered me. No one else cared, why should I?

It’s not that I enjoyed being a stinky mess. My favorite shower of the week happened on Saturday, after our morning practice.  I’d go all out- hair wash, shave my legs, even use a floral scented body scrub to make feel like a girl again because I had an entire forty-eight hours before I decomposed back into a stinky mess.

I won’t lie and tell you I have a new personal paradigm about beauty expectations. High maintenance is a life long condition. I did enjoy the break from feeling like I had to look good and the freedom that brought. Women are hard on ourselves and each other. My male colleagues gave me a gift they weren’t aware of- they looked past my face value.

The truth is that what I looked (or smelled) like had no relationship to my duties on the field. We were busy during practice. Beauty has no place on the football field unless you’re talking about a perfectly executed slip screen.



Pigskin Princess # 2: When Mom Goes to Football Practice

Written By: Dawn - Oct• 16•12


When I interviewed for my position on the coaching staff for Freshmen Football the biggest point I stressed was how I didn’t want the presence of a woman to change any aspect of the program, most especially for the players. As a mother of sons I felt strongly that boys need male-centered environments where they can act like boys. (In other words, farting out loud is always acceptable.)

I can safely say my gender hasn’t amounted to much in terms of change. There have been a few additions, like the word ma’am, and blinds for the coaches’ office inside the locker room. (Unfortunately the blinds don’t block out the smell.) On the field I am not much different from my male colleagues; I yell, I wear a whistle and I carry the play book.  Like them, I sweat, get tired and lose my voice. I’ve spent the better part of the season believing we were almost the same, except for one key difference- what happens at home.

It’s fair to say that my male colleagues don’t start laundry when they get home from Saturday morning practice. Nor are they responsible for meal planning for the people who remain at home while they’re coaching.  They’re not worrying about buying gifts for assorted relatives, signing school forms (for their own children) and packing school lunches. I doubt they’ll stress over holiday planning (it will be here before you know it) finding time for a mani/pedi or the affect of all that sun and sweat on their complexions.

Sometimes I look at my fellow coaches and I feel a bit envious because I suspect their wives have released them from a myriad of household responsibilities. That may or may not be true. While their responsibilities at home may differ from mine (let’s face it, I don’t do yard work) they, like me, have left a trail of undone, need-to-do and want-to-do tasks in their wake during football.

One area where I know the guys and I suffer equally is in family-life balance. There really is none during football season. We coach five evenings a week and on Saturday mornings. We arrive home exhausted, smelly and sometimes cranky, depending on what went down at practice. For me Game Day is a fourteen hour affair- eight hours of work , followed by the team meal, the production of players getting dressed in game attire, warm-ups, a possible bus ride, more warm-ups, the pre-game pep talk, the game, half time, the mid-game pep talk, the second half, the post-game talk and finally a bus ride back to school. I get home about 9:00 p.m. having left the house at 6:45 a.m.

Two weeks ago The Better Half was out of town on Game Day. I saw Little Bug for a total of ten minutes, five in the morning and five when I arrived home. His dinner was whatever the $8 cash I had in my wallet could buy him that night, since I had neither the time or energy to prepare something. In truth, he was likely thrilled to go grab fast food, he’s sixteen after all, but that’s not the point.

To his credit The Better Half has recalibrated  his expectations during football season. I don’t cook during the week anymore, but I am expected to supply the food needed so others can. I also don’t do dishes at night when I come home from practice. Sometimes The Better Half forgets my schedule and asks me out to Happy Hour on Friday night. There is no Happy Hour on Friday night because after my team’s practice, I head to the varsity game. (Friday Night Lights baby!)

I didn’t become a female football coach to make a statement about gender roles. I did it because I love the game and working with kids.  My male colleagues and I have equally sacrificed to be on the field with our players. They may not be worried about the laundry, but I’ve learned they do worry about what’s suffering in their personal lives while they’re on the field.

Exhaustion, it seems, is an equal opportunity condition.

Is it all worth it? If you need to ask  you haven’t been paying attention.

Go Huskies!


Beating the Book Blahs

Written By: Dawn - Sep• 18•12


Have you ever looked inside your closet and thought you had nothing to wear even though the closet was full of items? You start trying on clothes and putting together outfits but nothing fits, looks right, feels right or makes you appear 10 lbs. lighter? At this point your body temperature begins to rise, signaling an imminent meltdown. Shouting occurs, perhaps a throwing of the offending garments across the room and most certainly the gnashing of teeth. It isn’t pretty.

It might surprise you to know that the same thing happens to book lovers. While there’s no official name for this malady, I like to call it Transition Trouble.

Transition Trouble is a dangerous affliction that affects your ability to dive into a new book after recently finishing an engaging one. In my case, I read new novels from my favorite authors all summer and then became stuck in the middle of a second book in a trilogy that seemed to be limping along. I decided to take a break from it (something I rarely do) and discovered two new fiction titles that I had trouble putting down.

It’s been about ten days since I finished that last book and now I’m the one limping along. Everything I pick up feels wrong. I even requested two books with Jane Austen themes from the public library, but unfortunately they both centered on Mansfield Park, my least favorite of her work.

I’ve discussed this problem with other book lovers and found that it happens to everyone at some point. And we all appear to have the same fix- the palette cleanser. This is a favorite book, reread many times, that serves to clear your head and settle anxiety (because now you’re worried you’ll never find another new book you want to read). My palette cleanser is Pride & Prejudice. I can open it to any page and immediately begin to relax. After two or three days I’ve calmed down enough to pick up something new.

So last night I grabbed my worn copy of P&P (I own several) and waited for it to work its magic on me.

And I waited.


I’m now in four-alarm crisis mode. I HAVE NO BOOKS!

Yes I realize this is a gross exaggeration considering I work in a library and own at least 1,500 books but believe me, I have no books right now. Nothing is appealing to me and I’m getting worried.

The first thing I did this morning was log into Amazon and look up the titles I’d read recently and loved. Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought____ Also Bought ______” feature is a fabulous way to discover new authors.  I searched and searched, then opened a new tab for the Scottsdale Public Library. As I found potential good reads, I requested them from the library or, if they weren’t available, added them to my Amazon cart. In the end I requested 8 titles, ordered 3 and will stop by the library on my way home from work today to pick up one book that was on shelf and waiting to go home with an avid reader.

I’d like to think that between 14 books coming my way in the next week, at least one of them can rescue me from this malaise.

Has this ever happened to you? What’s your favorite palette cleanser? I might need some suggestions!

Pigskin Princess: On Any Given Wenesday

Written By: Dawn - Sep• 05•12

When I joined the coaching staff of the Freshmen football team last spring (no that’s not a typo) my mind immediately set to visions of the multitude of blogs such an experience would produce. I dreamed up a clever moniker (see above) and planned for a great photo of myself with a football and rhinestones for props.

Fast forward to today- Game Day #2 of the season.

I have not-

Blogged one sentence about coaching football.

Taken my fancy Pigskin Princess head shot.

Completely memorized the playbook. (So close!)

Avoided catching the Pigskin Plague- the cold bug that travels through the team in batches of four people.

Figured out how to make my hair last past two practices without needing to be washed again.

Regretted my decision to ask (I asked) to be part of Husky Football.

I have-

A lot to learn about football.

And coaching. They are separate skills sets.

Wonderful coaching colleagues whose experience and talent amazes me every day.

Fantastic (and aromatic) players.

Fun watching the reaction from people when they learn I’m coaching boys’ football.

Sweated through twice a week summer evening practices and now six days-a-week regular season practice without whining (even at home where it’s safe to whine).

Learned that my gender is not a handicap at all, but my lack of experience  is.

So why? Why do this crazy, very ungirly, unwriterly, unlibrarian-like activity that takes up about twenty hours a week (without pay!)? Two words-


Wednesday is Game Day for Freshmen Football. Game Day is what we live for, work for and sweat for. It’s our reward and, as we know, anything can happen on Game Day.

And in my case it already has- I’m part of the team. The players  probably aren’t going to learn a lot about football from me this year. What I hope they do learn from me is this- believe in that crazy thing you’ve always wanted to do and seize the opportunity  to become part of it.

Because anything can happen.


Goodbye Doesn’t Mean Forever

Written By: Dawn - Aug• 02•12


Believe it or not, colleges across the country are preparing for the start of the fall semester. Last week the Wall Street Journal published their annual article for parents about letting go (7/25/12 “At Freshman Orientation, Helping Mom and Dad Let Go“) because now parents are so enmeshed in their children’s lives college drop off is physically painful.

I must be an anomaly of sorts because I’m quite looking forward to dorm check-in (August 23- woot!). I confess I feel a touch of envy that Big Boy is at a public state college and instead of a tony Ivy league school that offers handholding to struggling parents.

When we dropped him off last year there wasn’t a special ceremony, a special campus administrator  trained in handling helicopter parents or even edible treats. Instead we all hoped for a parking spot to open up nearest to the right entrance to our child’s dorm.

But we survived. Sure I cried a bit more than I thought I would, but overall I was excited for Big Boy. He certainly was excited.

One of the things I’ve figured out is that the less I know, the less that can upset me when it comes to parenting. I see parents who want to micromanage college  in the same way they did the first eighteen years of their child’s life. Aren’t they tired? I know I am. I mean do you seriously  want to know how infrequently your son will wash his linens? Believe me moms, you can’t handle the truth!

Let go and let God,or the RA, handle it. That’s what they’re there for.

Am I worried about Big Boy’s safety at college? No. Drinking too much? No. State of his sheets? I prefer to pretend he doesn’t have sheets so I can’t even imagine how dirty they are. I don’t worry, I hope. I hope he goes to class. I hope he studies and I hope he asks for help if he needs it.

In other words, I hope for the best.

And while Big Boy’s college doesn’t pander to needy parents, it isn’t an insensitive institution at all. We just got a lovely note from them with special graphics and symbols like “$” and all manner of numbers. Apparently payment due by is the new wishing you all the best. 

Ah, parting is such sweet sorrow.