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Sports Crazed: The sacrifice of coaches' wives

Coaches work long hours, which can make it tough on their family lives

Posted: August 18, 2014 10:07 p.m.
Updated: August 18, 2014 10:07 p.m.

Veronica Bornn, wife of Saugus head football coach Jason Bornn, spends a lot of her time around the football field at Saugus High during the season. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze

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“My kids hated basketball.”

It’s a powerful statement from a coach.

It’s how Chad Phillips knew it was time for him to resign as Canyon boys head basketball coach in 2012.

He had given so much to the program in his 11 seasons leading it — spending time in the spring, summer, fall and winter with his team; taking his work home with him and watching video and thinking about the sport at the dinner table — that hi four young children started to associate basketball with daddy being gone.

And then there was his wife Jen.

“It’s very hard sometimes,” Jen says of the lifestyle. “You feel like you are the last person who gets a chance to have an opinion — especially during the season.”

“She’s an all-star for me as are a lot of other coaches’ wives,” Phillips says. “She’s amazing.”

There’s a name for women like Jen and other coaches’ wives whose husbands are spending so much time working on their profession to the point where it becomes obsession.

It’s called “coaches’ widows.”

For the obsessive coaches in the Santa Clarita Valley, some put full-time hours into coaching on top of full-time hours teaching.

Two full-time jobs can mean absence — both physically and mentally.

Saugus High head football coach Jason Bornn says he’s known of fellow coaches whose marriages have fallen apart because of toll the hours and dedication to coaching have taken on the relationship.

But some of the ultra-dedicated coaches in the SCV interviewed for this story have found ways to make it work, though.

Bornn says he is selfish with his time.

Family comes first so he will schedule football-related activities around his family.

He says he won’t watch film at home until after his wife and children have gone to sleep.

“I justify the guilt with a tremendous amount of selfish in how I schedule things,” Bornn says. “Everything I do and schedule is built around my family. Does it happen (where I schedule things that affect my family)? Yes. But sometimes I have to.”

Bornn’s wife Veronica is a familiar figure at Saugus football activities — from fundraisers to practices to games.

Football does interrupt her Bunco with friends and she spends less time with them during football season. That’s what she calls the major sacrifice.

The Bornns use old-fashioned teamwork to ensure that the family is together during football season.

“I’m probably a little different. I do see him and he is off every four months, and he’s off in April and off for three weeks in December. During football we move into Saugus,” Veronica joked.

The kids have been ballboys, their daughter helps making posters and Veronica will occupy her time during practices being productive. For example, she’ll walk the track surrounding the Saugus High practice field and get her exercise in while her husband works.

It’s a similar story with Santa Clarita Christian head football and baseball coach Garrick Moss and his wife Kendra.

“The biggest thing for me is I married smart,” Moss says. “I married an incredible woman who loves sports as much as I do. She loves being around sports and the people around sports. It really is an extended family.”

The Moss family gets creative with its time, too.

Both work at Santa Clarita Christian so lunches, albeit short lunches, will be spent together.

They have a son, Jacob, who is on the football team — which brings the family even closer together.

It’s the same for the Gutierrez family.

Canyon’s head football coach Rich Gutierrez and his wife Melissa have two children.

One is now on the freshman football team at Canyon and their daughter was a Canyon High cheerleader.

It’s no coincidence — as they approach their situation as a team.

“I do it because I want to do it. I love the kids because they’re almost like my own kids,” says Melissa Gutierrez. “I see Rich all the time. He works. He comes home for lunch. Then he comes back (to Canyon). I can come down here anytime I want.”

However, there are some wives who have full-time jobs and are worn out by the time they get home and don’t have the opportunity to spend as much time with their husbands.

The coaches’ schedule can wear on a family.

Often a coach will resign from their job and cite “personal reasons” or “family reasons.”

Coaches have confided in The Signal that coaching was taking a toll on the family.

Phillips acknowledged at the time of his resignation from Canyon that he had to think family first.

But when he got the itch to return to coaching this summer and took the head coaching job at Valencia High, his wife was the first one who told him to go for it.

“She’s always been my No. 1 supporter, never told me to resign,” Phillips says. “Even with going back to Valencia she said, ‘I want you to be happy.’ That’s her way of saying yes to it.”

But Phillips says he learned from his first go around as a head coach.

He admits being selfish with his time before.

That won’t be the case this time around.

And he has a major supporter.

“One-hundred percent,” Jen says on how much she backs her husband’s decision to return. “It’s his passion.”


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