One woman creates community of coaches’ wives
When he showed up at the Final Four in Detroit a few years ago, Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin figured he’d spend a few days gossiping about college basketball news and rumors with his friends in the profession.
Instead, Martin – the new Tennessee coach – talked mostly about his wife.
Or rather, her new website: MarriedtotheGame.net.
“Quite a few people asked him about it,” Roberta Martin said. “I think he was a little surprised.”
Three years after its launch in August 2008, Martin’s project continues to create buzz among the wives of college coaches, many of whom visit the site daily. The nearly 800 members have access to forums and message boards where they share advice on anything from dealing with irritable husbands to adapting to a new city to what to wear to a game.
“It runs the whole gamut,” Martin said.
MarriedtotheGame.net is somewhat like Facebook in that it allows wives to create profile pages, post pictures and send messages. Access to the various forums and pages isn’t granted until a potential member fills out a form and has it approved by Martin, who wants the site to remain strictly for coaches’ wives.
She said 90 percent of the members have husbands who are either head coaches or assistants at the Division I level. The site isn’t limited to basketball, as wives of football and baseball coaches – and even a few athletic administrators – frequent the message boards, too.
Joani Crean and Jerri Painter – who are married to Indiana coach Tom Crean and Purdue coach Matt Painter, respectively – are among the more notable site members. The Hoosiers-Boilermakers rivalry hasn’t stopped the spouses from becoming friends. The same thing goes for Martin, whose husband was an assistant at Purdue and the head coach at Missouri State before accepting the Tennessee job in March.
Martin said she got the idea for the site shortly after Cuonzo accepted the Missouri State job.
“At the time I had a pretty successful career of my own,” she said. “I went from working full-time to being a full-time mom. The emotion of letting go was tough.
“I wanted to be able to talk to someone that had been through something similar. Most coaches’ wives are college grads who had careers when their husbands were getting their start. Who better to understand?”
Martin did some research, found a hosting provider and, within months, the site was up and running. Although her workload has increased dramatically during the last year, Martin said she spent nearly 40 hours a week on the project during its infancy.
“I can name 20 people that I talk to frequently now that I would’ve never known otherwise,” she said.
One of them is Michelle Ross, whose husband, Monte, is the head coach at Delaware.
“Wives can give you all kinds of information,” Ross said. “Planning vacations around recruiting periods … things to do with your kids when you’re feeling like a single mom, even though you’re married … how to talk to your husband when his team is losing.
“It’s a good way to meet other women whose lives are like yours. Even though I have four sisters, none of them can understand what coaches’ lives are like.”
Other topics may involve restaurant recommendations, parenting advice or words of encouragement to wives whose husbands have just been fired.
Martin said she couldn’t be more appreciative of Cuonzo for being so supportive. The couple’s children are ages 4, 9 and 13.
“At first he was like, ‘If doing this gives you fulfillment, great,’ ” Martin said. “After he saw how much time I spent working on it he laughed and said, ‘Hey wait … I thought you were going to be a stay-at-home mom instead of working full time?’
“But after he went to the Final Four and heard people talking about how their wives liked the site, he understood a little more and realized just how beneficial it can be.”