Written by Corbett Smith
Rowlett coaching family gladly alters Thanksgiving routine
ROWLETT (8-4) VS. SPRING WESTFIELD (9-3) 2 p.m. Saturday at Georgetown
This Thanksgiving was a little bit different for Rowlett coach Kiff Hardin. But he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Choosing not to make a trek to Fredericksburg for a visit with family, Hardin and his wife, Brenda, stayed home.
So did their son, Kyle, his wife Britney and their 2-year old daughter Taylor — who normally split holidays between Fredericksburg and Britney’s hometown of Bangs, just outside of Brownwood.
Instead, Kiff and Kyle — Rowlett’s co-offensive coordinator — led a brisk early morning Thanksgiving practice, getting their players off the field in time for a big lunch.
“That’s always one of our goals, is to be practicing at the Thanksgiving break,” Kyle said. “We love it, the kids love it. It’s a good time to be working out.”
With Rowlett in the third round of the playoffs, plans had to be altered a little.
Brenda and Britney combined forces for the first time for a big Thanksgiving meal; Britney was making cornbread dressing for the first time.
Most of the extended family will get together this weekend for a caravan to Georgetown to watch Rowlett face Spring Westfield at 2 p.m. Saturday.
“Every year, it’s something you wish for so hard — playing on Thanksgiving weekend,” Brenda said. “So, instead of sometimes being able to go home and sit and have Thanksgiving at the table together, we’re on the road somewhere, having the time of our lives.”
Football is an institution for many families in the fall, especially around Thanksgiving, when tag football and the Cowboys are as much on the menu as turkey and sweet potatoes.
But for high school coaches and their families lucky enough to still be playing, it’s a satisfying achievement near the end of a long and arduous season.
Before the start of two-a-days in August, coaches are logging 60- to 70-hour workweeks, working seven days a week. Their wives bear the burden of raising the kids, taking care of the household, often holding jobs of their own.
Football becomes enmeshed with their lives. Booster club meetings, sub-varsity games and Saturday morning film sessions mark the days as the season goes by.
“There are times when it’s hard,” Britney said. “But it’s only a few months a year. And I’ve gotten used to it now.”
And with the sacrifices come benefits.
Brenda said both Kyle and his older sister Brandi “grew up at the field house.
“They didn’t miss anything,” Brenda said. “Because they were part of [Kiff’s job] in a lot of different ways.”
Brandi chose not to walk at her graduation from Texas Tech in December 2000, choosing instead to be in the stands as Gatesville finished a perfect season with a Class 3A title.
Kiff coached Kyle for four years, two at Pearsall and two at Gatesville, before his son followed in his footsteps on the football team at Angelo State.
Now, he gets to watch his son for his passion on a daily basis.
“It’s real special, just to watch him develop as a coach,” Kiff said. “And it’s special to be around him and be around the family, even more so this time of year.”
For Kiff and Brenda — with Kyle on the sideline, Britney and Taylor in the stands, and Brandi following the game online with live stats from her home near London — football is family.
“For us, it’s been perfect,” Brenda said. “I can’t imagine our lives without it.”