The Life of a Coaching Family – Part 1: Marriage and Coaching(Second half)

By Jeff Greenberg

Welcome back to the second half of Part 1 in our series, The Life of a Coaching Family. The second half picks up where we left off in our conversation with North Carolina Head Coach, Larry Fedora, and his wife, Christi. They continue here on what marriage has been like in the coaching world.

What do you think the hardest thing has been for you to be the husband and father you wanted to be for your family?Larry Fedora: “I always worry about the resentment they may have from the time that football has taken me away from their lives. You’re always worried about how you try to balance your time between work and family. And to me balance means 50/50 and it never gets to be 50/50 so that bothers you. It’s not even close. The things that I’ve missed in my kids’ lives matter to me. I don’t know if they’ll miss it but there will come a time in my life when I look back and wonder if it was all worth it. So that weighs on me and it’s the hardest part of this job when it comes to family.”

What’s been the hardest part as a couple in this profession?Larry: “For me, the hardest part as a couple was when we were at Baylor and the coach I was working for was let go. I was out of a job with a wife and two kids to support. That was tough. I was sure I could find work to make money and put food on the table but I was worried about whether I could continue to coach to make money and do what I love. That was the first time this job felt hard.”

Christi Fedora: “The time in Oklahoma and then the move from Oklahoma to Mississippi was hard on us because that’s when the kids were all heavily involved in school and activities. That’s when I just felt worn out and exhausted. I hated seeing the other dads at everything and him never being able to be there.”

How did you deal with that?Christi:  “I just focused on doing what I knew I had to do and take care of the kids and keep their lives as normal as possible. Even when I was upset or envious I just did what I had to do. Then once I would make friends and he would eventually have the time to get to know those friends we would have periods that felt more normal because he knew the people I was with and we could have conversations on common topics.”

Larry: “There’s no book or manual out there that helps tell you how to handle parenting in this profession. You just have roll with it and adjust as you go and she has done that every step of the way.  That’s what I mean when I say she’s been an unbelievable wife and mother. I couldn’t have done what she’s done for our family.”

How does having her do what she does at home make you a better coach at work?Larry: “What Christi does with our family and our lives is crucial to how I do my job. There’s no doubt in my mind I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her. What she does is amazing and you can’t even measure the importance of that to my career.”

What’s he like at home overall?Larry: “During the season or out of season? Because that’s two different worlds.”

Christi:  “During the season he’s only home before we all go to bed 2 to 3 nights a week and only home for one dinner a week. He’s always focused and intense then for the most part. The year-round recruiting makes things tough now because he’s always monitoring his phone for those things. And really, there isn’t an offseason anymore like there used to be. Vacation is really the only time he’s not working.”

What do you guys like to do when you do “get away”?Larry: “The only real time away is the couple of weeks during the summer that I can go down to the beach with them. Even then, I get up early and get some things done and then when they all wake up I do whatever they feel like doing for the day.”

Christi:  “That’s the time when everything can be about us and the kids. It’s great and something we all look forward to every summer. But then during the last two or three days of vacation he starts looking back towards football and he gets intense again.”

Larry: “Yeah, once the fireworks on the 4th of July happen I start thinking about the season.”

What have been your favorite moments in this profession?Larry:  “Honestly, I’m just grateful we have four healthy, good kids. And I attribute that to her and how she’s raised them at home.”

Christi:  “Well, football-wise, I really think the excitement of winning the Conference USA title was awesome and stands out as a great time for us in this profession. It was a lot of fun to celebrate with the other coaches and their families and of course the players.”

Larry: “I love those sports’ accomplishments but our legacy will be more about our kids in my opinion than anything we accomplish in football. And as a coach it will be about how the players we’ve coached look back and feel about us and how we helped them in their lives.”

What moment was your proudest moment for him?Christi:   “I think when he got his head coaching jobs, both here and at Mississippi. Being at the press conferences and just feeling proud of him at those moments.”

When have you sat back and watched her in her element and felt proud of her? Larry: “Honestly, that’s every year we’ve been married. I feel that constantly because of the wife she is and the mother she became for our children. We’ve been married 28 years but we joke about it being 14 years since 6 months out of the year I’m busy with the football season. She has held our family together and she’s the engine that makes this family go.”

What are some of the neat things this profession has allowed the family to experience that maybe other families don’t experience?Christi:  “I think moving has its downside but it also gives your family a chance to experience new things and see different parts of the country. It was so hard to leave Mississippi and their friends but I think it was healthy for them to have to branch out and make new friends. I also think each move really brought our kids closer together as siblings which is unique. Then there’s the traveling they’ve gotten to do and the fun hotels and experiences we’ve had through the bowl games. Plus, they get to go behind the scenes and be a part of football in a way that thousands of fans wish they could do.”

Larry: “People don’t always understand it but for example, bowl games. Bowl games have kind of defined our holidays every year. When we were at the Belk Bowl we were in the hospitality room having our Christmas Eve. Some people would think that’s sad but to us it’s normal. It’s what we do. Christmas to us always meant finding out where we’re headed for a bowl game. It’s not like how I grew up where everybody went to grandma’s house for Christmas and all of those traditions.”

Christi:  “Right, we don’t see our extended family over the holidays. Our family around the holidays is the other coaches and their families.”

Larry: “That part is tough because you don’t see your extended family but they have always been neat trips and experiences that we will always remember as a family.”

What’s the favorite topic of conversation when you’re together as a couple?Christi: “We usually are catching up on what the kids are doing and what’s going on in their lives.”


Where do family conversations usually end up? – Larry: “You never know. Crazy things and there’s at least four different conversations going on as we try to hear about how all 4 kids’ days are going and what’s happening in their lives. Of course, they’re usually messing with Christi or messing with each other. Then you add two dogs into the mix and it ends up being total chaos in our house.”

Christi:  “When they were all at home and in school it was like Grand Central Station at our house. All of their friends ended up at our house. Sometimes I would walk in and Dillon’s friends would in the living room watching television and ask, “What’s for dinner Ms. Christi?” And Dillon wouldn’t even be there yet. Their friends would act normal around Larry, especially once they got to know him. Maybe too comfortable around him(laughing). I was at “Mom’s Weekend” once in Austin with Sydney and one her friends there has been with us to the beach a few times. But her mom joked that she was amazed to hear Larry was so fun and talkative when he was with us at the beach. She said she always pictured him as the serious guy she saw on the sideline.”

Larry: “I got to go down there when Sydney moved into to her dorm in Austin her freshman year. Her graduation was the next time I was able to go to Austin. I didn’t get to go to any parents’ weekends or father’s weekends. If you ask her, I don’t think she would say it bothered her. Our kids just know that is our life and that’s what they’ve grown up with and known as normal.”

Does that ever bother you?Larry: “I do think about that and wonder what it would be like to be a normal guy in the neighborhood. I see guys going on fishing trips or hunting trips with their buddies and wonder “what if” sometimes. Or I think about what it would be like hanging out in the neighborhood in the evenings with neighbors.  But then again, this is the only life we know.”

Any woulda, coulda, shouldas in your career?Both: “No.”

Larry: “We’ve always believed that the Lord had a plan for us. If we didn’t get a certain job then it wasn’t meant to be and we’re not supposed to be there. It’s been a long, long time since we really went after a job.”

What do you like most about Larry now and when you look back at your marriage? – Christi: “I think I love that he never gives up on anything. Whether it’s relationships or his job, he’s one the hardest workers I’ve seen in so many different aspects of his life.”

What do you think has been the key/secret to having a happy marriage in the coaching world? – Christi: “There’s no doubt the key to a happy marriage in this profession or in any profession for that matter, is having a Christ-centered marriage. We’ve had our share of struggles as any marriage does but leaning on our faith in God keeps us grounded. Also, I really feel that having a coaching staff that is close and gets along, both coaches and wives, is important. I think Larry does a great job when interviewing coaches in making sure they are going to fit with his philosophy as a coach, but also with our philosophy as a staff of men and women that love each other and work well together.”

If you could go back to the night before your wedding and talk to your younger selves, what would you tell them?Larry: “I think I had a pretty realistic outlook on life. I never had the rose-colored glasses about life. I always thought life wasn’t going to be easy and there would be challenges thrown our way. So I’m not sure what I’d tell myself then. Maybe I’d tell him to lighten up a bit and that he was on the right track but he needed to be patient and things will fall into place. I would tell her that it will be harder than you think it’s going to be because I don’t think she knew how hard it was going to be. To be honest I don’t think I knew how hard the job would be on the family part of our lives.”

Christi:  “I would tell her it’s going to be tougher than you think and you’ll need to be strong. Be supportive and try to make light of things. I think I could be too stressed out at times and there were times I would be resentful that he wasn’t there. So don’t let those things get to you. Enjoy the time you have raising your kids and value the times he is there even more. It will be a wild ride but a ride you’ll take together.”

Larry: “I think one thing we’ve always done together is when we’ve made a major decision for our family we’re never going to look back. We’re going to make it work out and make it a good decision. Whether we’re driving from Waco to Colorado and she’s crying her eyes out or moving somewhere else, we’re going to make it work for our family.”

After reading through this conversation, one thing is clear. Living the life and being married in the coaching world is a different life than most people will ever experience. It’s one where everybody involved sacrifices a lot in terms of time spent together as a family, friendships and missing out on what most of us consider “normal.” It’s not for the faint of heart, but it looks like the Fedoras figured out long ago what mattered most and how to make it all work.

That concludes Part 1 in our series. The next part in this series, Married to a Coach, will look at what it’s like to be the spouse of the head coach, as described by Christi Fedora. Look for that story next week here on

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