ATHENS — Kristen Eargle is the gift that keeps on giving.
Georgia fans surely will recall the remarkable coach’s wife from Austin Peay University who inspired us all as the Bulldogs prepared for what before then was thought to be a meaningless season-opening game against faceless FCS program last August. But then we learned of little Lindsey Eargle, the daughter of Austin Peay offensive line coach Joshua Eargle and Kristen.
The couple had only recently gone public with the financial and emotional struggles that had befallen their family as a result of the mysterious and relentless disease that ravaged their 5-year-old daughter. Out of that was born the #ForTheLoveOfLandrey fundraising campaign. It had only just begun when DawgNation, us, shared the Eargles’ story with the Bulldog Nation, you.
Some beautiful things happened after that as Georgia fans did what they do best, which is to get behind a worthy cause. Facilitated by that enormous initial financial outpouring from the Bulldog Nation, hundreds of thousands of dollars have since been raised For the Love of Lindsey, and the Eargles’ lives have been transformed.
And now, today, for the rest of the story.
In addition to her roles as mother and wife, Kristen Eargle works for Austin Peay’s athletic department as a kind of in-house sports personality. Educated and trained as a journalist, Eargle serves sideline reporter during the Governors’ football games and hosts the coach’s show each week during the season. And now she has parlayed her experiences into a wonderful new podcast called “Coach’s Wife Life.”
You may have heard of her guest this week. It was Mary Beth Smart, wife of the Georgia football coach who goes by the name Kirby. In her 36-minute interview with Mary Beth, Eargle confirms what I have always known — that Mary Beth is the secret to all of Kirby Smart’s success, at Georgia and all points before that.
I’m only half-kidding.
Completely honored to have Mary Beth Smart, @KirbySmartUGA, @FootballUGA Head Coach! She shares what she enjoys most about her role and how she heard my daughter Landrey’s story & what prompted her to give. #DawgNation #ForTheLoveOfLandrey https://t.co/WTO5aP9QbR pic.twitter.com/wbGTCG11BI
— Coach's Wife Life (@CoachsWifeLife1) January 14, 2019
Eargle is a truly gifted interviewer, and the bonds between her and Mary Beth Smart are evident as she delves into the home life that Mary Beth and Kirby share with their three children that few of us ever see. Here are a few of the revelations she uncovers:
- That Mary Beth and Kirby try to sit down once a week to watch to a TV show. This past season that came on Wednesday nights for the Netflix series “Shooter;”
- That even above all the national championship wins at Alabama, her favorite football memory of all now is Georgia winning the SEC Championship over Auburn in 2017;
- That her oldest son, Weston, has gotten interested to the point that he now asks Kirby “fans’ questions” like, “who’s gonna start at quarterback this week, Dad?,” which she discourages;
- That she is intimately involved in recruiting and it is her favorite part of being a coaches’ wife;
- That Kirby takes losses “extremely hard,” and so does the rest of the family;
- That she thinks it’s “silly” when people refer to her as “The First Lady of Georgia Football.”
Believe me, that’s doesn’t even qualify as a snippet of the fun and enlightening insights Eargle uncovers. You must give it a listen to appreciate them all.
One touching and funny anecdotes Mary Beth shares is the reason her three children were not on the field with her at halftime when she surprised the Eargles with a check for $5,000 at halftime. It was because they had been “acting up” in the first half and that was her punishment for them.
“As soon as I got down there I regretted not bringing them,” Mary Beth said, “because that’s what this was all about, coaches’ wives and families.”
Have a listen for yourself. I found it enjoyable, enlightening and refreshing. It’s a nice respite from what has seemed like an endless stream of college football and coaching drama surrounding Georgia since the conclusion of the season.
It’s also reaffirming. I’ve always suspected it’s the women behind coaches that make the great ones great.