Editor’s Note: This month’s Point of View salutes the fans in the stands.
Stacey Strenge and Rae Hosford were on the sidelines Saturday afternoon for the final 9-man football game between their own Wyndmere-Lidgerwood and Region 1 rival Hankinson.
Both from Wyndmere, North Dakota, they attend most Warbird football games because these two women are a key support system for two W-L football coaches as Strenge’s husband Scott is the head football coach, while Hosford’s husband Todd is an assistant football coach and head basketball coach. Hosford’s sporting season runs from August through March with these two sports.
These wives of high school football coaches have learned to be patient this time of year because of the number of directions their husbands are being pulled.
“As a coach’s wife, I try to be understanding. I still want him to help around the house though,” Hosford said, laughing and nodding at Strenge, who gave her an understanding smile.
Also, do not take it personally if their mind isn’t always in the present as their husbands prepare for the next game or constantly dwell on how to make their teams better, Strenge said, who has learned to be flexible and have a sense of humor when it’s football season. She said it’s important not to think her husband just set her aside for something else because being a coach’s wife requires a give-and-take.
“I try to be patient this time of year. As a coach’s wife it’s not my job to coach him — it’s my job to support him. It’s taken me a long time to understand that. Sometimes it requires more patience on my part,” Strenge said, who has been married more than 20 years.
‘I need you to be present’
But what happens when it’s time to get young children fed, bathed and ready for bed? Consider the Hosfords have three young children — Reese, 9, Huston, 7, and Breck, 4.
Todd Hosford may not be the head football coach, so his role as assistant isn’t as stressful or all consuming, but when it’s basketball season, he takes that job seriously and is in constant sports mode. “I always tell Todd when he gets home, ‘I need you to be present with us right now and then you can go back to your football or basketball.’ Basketball consumes his mind,” Hosford said, who watches her husband multi-task at home. “When he puts Huston to bed, instead of just laying there while he falls asleep, he’s scouting. Huston and Todd scout games while he’s putting him to bed,” she said.
Strenge has two children — Sierra, 16, a junior at Wyndmere High School, and Vincent, 12, who is a seventh grader there. She and Hosford are both completing a graduate program in education, so besides taking over at home, they also are trying to complete a degree program.
She was busy working on their final project recently, so Scott Strenge took their two children to Fargo for the day. They went to a movie, out to eat and just had a fun dad day, she said. When he came back home, it was about football again. She said he’s able to separate his roles, all while leaving the door open for “his kids,” which is what he calls his football players as he also has become a father figure to many. Scott Strenge takes this role seriously, she said, and leaves his phone on at home in case a player needs him beyond the football field.
“You are sharing the most valuable thing you have in a marriage — your time. It does get hard sometimes,” Strenge said.
‘They don’t sleep’
This season the Warbirds won only one game, which typically happens with a young team. They have started as many as six freshmen because there is not a lot of depth to the overall team.
Scott Strenge and Todd Hosford are coaches who take each win and loss personally, their wives said. So Friday nights after a bad loss on the football field could be a difficult one for the wives, or during the winter season during basketball.
That made each woman smile, nod and laugh.
“Scott has a man cave. He goes into that on his own. It’s a separate building on the garage, so there are no distractions in the house. With the years of being a coach and being a father, he is able to look at each loss through that filter, but it helps for him to have his man cave,” Strenge said.
Hosford began to laugh. “I am the one who goes to bed early, so he’s one that will stay up and watch film,” she said. “He’s not one to dwell on that one game. He’s more about what he can do next time to better prepare his team. That doesn’t mean he isn’t frustrated. He also probably won’t sleep that night.”
“They don’t sleep,” Strenge added, which made both women laugh.
Blending their families
Being a coach’s wife is a way of life, an important point because their sporting lives aren’t always about stress and having to take over the home so their husbands can coach. There are many fun times, especially being able to include the players as part of their extended families.
Plus, both women taught these players as Hosford is a third grade classroom teacher, while Strenge teaches English to grades 8-11, both at Wyndmere Public School.
Strenge has gotten to know football better through the years as well. At first she relied on the people around her to guide her cheering since she didn’t fully understand the game. Now she knows enough to chat with players on Monday at school. She said she may not know the sporting term for what they accomplished on the field, but recognizes their good effort. That makes for a good connection with the kids, she said.
Hosford had the Wyndmere players in third grade and compares them now to the youngsters they were years ago in her classroom. She pointed at Jack Manstrom, a freshman wide receiver on the team. “At 103 pounds, he’s trying to knock over those 200 pounds guys, or run away from them. That is totally his personality, a go-getter,” she said.
They have moments they will never forget, such as the state football championships the Warbirds won in both 2010 and 2017. Strenge sat in the stands Saturday proudly wearing a sweatshirt bearing the championship team from 2010.
For Hosford, it was when her husband took his basketball team to the state tournament for the first time, which happened in 2017. That same year the Warbirds beat Oak Grove in the regional basketball tournament to qualify for state. “That was the best game ever, beating Oak Grove. It was like winning the state championship for us,” she said.