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“I know one day my students will be at the high school, and some of them will be playing for the Green Wave,” fourth-grade teacher Allison Etheredge said. “I’m looking forward to seeing that.”

After discussing the Green Wave’s upcoming game against rival St. Clair County, Leeds’ head football coach Keith Etheredge asked when his wife’s profile would be published in the newspaper.  

“I just wanted to make sure she didn’t say anything bad about me,” he said with a laugh.

That wasn’t something he needed to worry about.

“He is amazing,” Allison Etheredge had said.  “If he wasn’t my husband and my kids’ father, he’s definitely the kind of coach I want my son to play for.  He’s fabulous.”

Having been married to a coach for 10 years, though, she knows the challenges involved.

“I kind of had an idea, but you’re never really prepared for something like this,” she said.  “When football workouts start in July, he’s not around as much, and he come home exhausted, physically and mentally drained.  While he loves what he does, he also loves his family very much, so it means making a lot of sacrifices.”

Are there any perks?:  “Absolutely.  I get the pride of being married to a coach who has helped change the Leeds community.  Through football, he and the other coaches and the players have brought the community’s spirit back.  It brings people to Leeds who might want to live here.  Sometimes people tell me, ‘Thank you for all he does for these boys.’  I love it, and I’m flattered, but I haven’t done anything.  I’m just married to him.”

About Coach Etheredge:  “He’s passionate about every game.  He never comes in and says, ‘We’ve got this in the bag.’  He’s always preparing, and I can always tell when Friday’s getting close, because he’s a little more anxious.  He wants to make sure he’s done everything he can to prepare the guys for the game.  It’s nice that he has such a passion and intensity for what he does.  I think it’s good, although he gets so excited sometimes I tell him to calm down.”

Winning and losing:  “With the great success Leeds has had, I haven’t seen much of what happens if they lose on Friday night.  When it happens, Keith always feels like it’s his fault, that he didn’t prepare them well enough.  Even if in my opinion, yes, he did more than enough, he still takes the blame.  I guess to a good coach, there’s always more he could do.”

Is it difficult to hear critical comments about the coach?:  “Things are fine when you’re winning every single game, so it doesn’t happen a lot, but I know there will be a time when it will.  It can be very hurtful, because any wife who is married to a coach knows how much time, effort and sacrifice he puts into what he does.  It’s easy for someone to sit in the stands and question his judgment, because they’re looking for someone to blame when something goes wrong.  All of us are quick to judge when we’re in the stands instead of being positive and cheering them on.”

About football:  “I enjoy high school football more than college.  Fridays nights, it’s turning fall, the cool air, the band, the cheerleaders, the players on the field, all the kids — it’s great.”

A typical Friday evening during football season:  “I tailgate with the quarterback club and then walk over to the game and sit in the stands with everybody else.  I like to be where all the fans are.  It’s exciting, and I feel a lot of pride in it.  When you’re husband’s the coach, he’s a big part of the environment.  I’m not from Leeds, but I feel like it’s my school, and I want to root for it as much as I can.”

The next generation:  The Etheredges have two children, eight-year-old Camden and four-year-old McKenzie.  “Our daughter knows her dad is a coach, and she enjoys going out onto the field after games.  Our son, he loves to go in the locker room and give the guys a high-five.  He knows all their names, and he’s proud to tell people that his dad’s a coach at Leeds High School and has won two state championships.”

Her work:  She’s a fourth grade teacher at Leeds Elementary School.  “Keith give me a hard time because after the kids go to bed, I’m still up late working on things for school, but he’s the same way about football, always talking to other coaches on the phone and watching film.  He tries to prepare his students for life in a different way than I am.  Through football, he’s showing them how to be successful in bigger and better things.”

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