Finding just the right licensed team apparel for the game is only part of what it takes to feel your best while supporting your local university and community. At Alumna House, we focus on helping women not only look their best but live their best life – their A game.
So we’ve started a new interview series, “In the Arena,” where we talk to successful women with connections to the university sports they love. The Interview Series was started so women can share their stories - how they overcome challenges, what motivates them to keep going despite failure, and what brings them joy.
We want to celebrate these women regardless of their roles or whether they’re athletes on or off the field. After all, we’re all athletes, some of us just wear different uniforms.
We recently sat down with the amazing Jodi Crutchfield, wife of UNO Maverick’s Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Chris Crutchfield. She radiates kindness and authenticity and talked about her success throughout the years and her roles as mom, wife, and professional. She talked about what it’s like being married to a successful head coach and the importance of having her own identity.
Jodi and Chris Crutchfield are both former Mavs, having graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Chris even played basketball for the Mavs while earning his degree. But they haven’t lived in Omaha for over 20 years. They only recently returned to the Big “O” when Chris accepted the position as head coach for the UNO Mavericks.
And while Chris has had an extensive and successful career as a basketball coach, even going to the Final Four with the Oklahoma Sooners, Jodi has seen a lot of her own success as a speech-language pathologist, wife, and mother.
Jodi’s passion for her own children and those in the community has led to a fulfilling life, and, in our interview, she shared some of the biggest takeaways that have kept her sane and successful throughout her career.
We can all learn something from Jodi’s 6 tips for achieving balance as a coach’s wife, mom, professional, and woman making the most of any challenges she faces in life:
1. Focus on Yourself
Jodi talks about the importance of having your own identity within your marriage. She stresses, “Don’t lose yourself. Don’t let yourself become defined by who you are married to and what your husband does … it’s not your job. It is his job. So I think to be able to have something that has your name on it, that has your stamp on it, as the woman that you are, I think is very important.”
For Jodi, that meant following through with her schooling even when she had two small children at home. And, later in life, continuing her career as a language-speech pathologist even when her family had to relocate multiple times due to her husband’s work.
2. Set Ground Rules
Jodi talked about the very important “Crutch Rule” that has been vital to maintaining the balance between work and family in her household.
After explaining the rule, it’s one we can all benefit from following:
"We have a rule in our home ... even when our kids were small, Chris does not come into the house on the phone. Because when you come into the house you need to be able to you know acknowledge your family, hug and play with your kids, speak to your wife. Even though it’s something very small it’s helped us with kind of a reset. When you come home, you’re not Coach Crutch. When you come home, you’re a husband and you’re a dad. So I think that’s been pivotal."
She said her husband sometimes sits in the car when he gets home from work to finish up a phone call before going into the house. She said she doesn’t mind when he does this because it shows he values the importance of his family time the moment he walks through the door.
As someone who is a language-speech pathologist and currently works with Omaha Public Schools, Jodi knows a lot about the importance of communication – with both the parents she works with and her own family.
When talking with parents, she said she always tries to put herself in their shoes: “To me, this person is a student, but to the parents, this is their child ... If I was on the other side of this table, how would I want this person to address me? Nonjudgemental, compassionate and helpful, and patient.”
And this empathy is something she also uses within her own family. She described the importance of “just talking” and “not letting basketball, good or bad, pour over into our home.” Communication is what allows these types of healthy boundaries to exist.
4. Be Honest
“In our family, honesty is always first.”
Jodi said this is sometimes hard, especially as a coach's wife, when the family has to move because of where basketball takes him.
She said, “ I'm not gonna sugar coat it and say, oh, it's no problem at all. It has been hard because I have walked away from jobs that I truly love and people.” For Jodi, the tough times are opportunities for strengthening relationships and personal growth.
She goes on to say:
"I just remind myself ... I'm tough, I'm resilient ... I have a saying: I bloom where I'm planted. So, if this is where I'm planted right now, then I need to figure out how to bloom. I may not bloom the first year. I may still be struggling, but it's something that you have to just be diligent and really remind yourself that it's okay ... It's okay to be upset. It's okay to be sad, but happiness is a choice ... you have to realize you are where you are for a reason, and you just take it day by day."
According to Jodi, being honest, even when things are hard, makes it easier to cope and get support.
She said, “Everything is not always going to be unicorns and rainbows,” so you have to be honest about where you are so you can adjust accordingly.
Stepping away from things like work, social media, family obligations, and yes, even basketball, is important and necessary according to Jodi. She emphasized the importance of unplugging as a way to reset and reenergize.
Sometimes she turns off her phone so she can’t get calls or texts and stops checking email. It allows her to “kind of just go into shut down” mode so she can take a break from everything:
“Sometimes I needed to say, okay, let's just reset and, start again tomorrow. And you know, and I think that's the best we can do sometimes is just, you know, just shut off the world and just kind of reset internally and just be ready for tomorrow.”
She also loves reading things that are light and fun. Books are a great way to quickly escape from the stress of daily life and lose yourself in another world. Creating that kind of space is a wonderful way to unwind and rejuvenate yourself so you can emerge with more focus and energy.
6. Support Other Women
Jodi stresses the importance of encouraging and supporting other women, regardless of their job or status:
"I think it's important as women that we encourage other women and that we cheer for other women… We don't say: Your path is less important because you don't earn a paycheck or your path is more important because you do earn a paycheck. Cheer for all women, because ... we're all in this life together, no matter what our paths are."
And we couldn't agree more with this sentiment. This is the reason Alumna House was created – to fill a need for women to support their favorite university team while also being stylish, confident, and beautiful.
If you want to feel energized and inspired, watch our full interview with Jodi Crutchfield here:
And stay tuned for more interviews with amazing women making a difference in their communities. Aren’t you ready to start living your "A" Game?