Meet the Real Coaches’ Wives of Bryant. Thankfully, their personalities rank high above the often-caddy, Botox-loving women portrayed on the popular Real Housewives “reality” TV series. These women are the teams’ biggest cheerleaders, even when the lights have dimmed. They balance life as wives, mothers and full-time professionals while providing support to their coach husbands and their football teams.
Laryssa Calley’s love of sports is one reason she and her husband, Bryant High School Head Football Coach Paul Calley, hit it off so well more than 25 years ago. And now she’s a proud 22-year coach’s wife veteran. “I played basketball and cheered through high school; therefore, I not only understand the game, but I know the mental and physical demands that go along with sports.” They married after her freshman year at Henderson State University, where Paul was a graduate, and have remained Reddies fans.
Coaching is Paul’s “ministry field,” Laryssa notes, so while time apart has taken its toll through the years, she has realized that he is fulfilling his life’s purpose and supports him however she’s able. “Winning is important to Paul, but he is more concerned with producing men of character and integrity.” The family has dinner together as much as possible and Laryssa says she and Paul continually work on spiritual and personal growth together.
Salt Bowl time is a favorite time for the entire family, says Laryssa. “Paul usually has his dad, brother and brother-in-law on the sideline with him.” Memorable sports moments could go on and on, but a few of Laryssa’s favorites are when Paul was an offensive coordinator in 1999 and the Hornets “shocked the state” with a win over Conway, the legend of over-time games won in the “Magic North End Zone” to beating El Dorado in 2013 to clinch the conference title and the 2004 win over Central High School when they were nationally ranked.
Win or lose, Laryssa has learned to show support and, most of all, cherish the bonds created through sports. “Together, we have learned to take the good with the bad, and I’ve learned over the years to make our home a sanctuary where Paul doesn’t have to worry about the team or season if he doesn’t want to.”
Stacy Smothermon, nine years a coach’s wife, also treats the home as a place of rest and comfort. This mother of three small children and dental hygienist wouldn’t call herself a big sports fan, but she adores Bryant Middle School football. As the wife of head coach Brad Smothermon, Stacy is happy with how the family has learned to balance career and family.
“Brad has been called to be a coach,” she says. “He absolutely loves it and is really good at it, so the time away doesn’t bother me.” When Brad is home, Stacy is proud to say he is a full-time dad. “Balance for us includes a hefty dose of God. He keeps us grounded. Football responsibilities are handled when the kids go to bed.”
Joyous moments on the field fill Stacy with happiness. “I can’t remember who they were up against, but about four years ago, one of the boys made a great play, and Brad was super excited. He let out a big yell, chest bumped the player and clapped way up in the air. His smile was priceless. I love seeing him get that excited and celebrating with his team like that. It makes me so proud of him and what he does.”
The Bethel Middle School eighth-grade team had its first undefeated season this past year under Shane Clancy’s first year as Head Coach. The most difficult thing is the rare person who “bad mouths” the coaches, says Ashley Clancy, Shane’s wife. “It’s hard hearing harsh words about someone you love so much, but as a whole, the communities we have been in have been very encouraging and supportive during hard times.”
This mother of four and Pulaski County deputy prosecuting attorney has had more than her fair share of life events to juggle over the past year. But the one thing that has remained constant is the support shown by the Bryant community and her husband’s players and team parents at Bethel Middle School. A Benton High School graduate, Ashley was anxious about wearing the Bryant blue. “One of our sons, Cash, is disabled and the teachers and staff at Bethel and the entire Bryant school system have been so supportive, not only to Shane, but to me as well,” she says. “I proudly wear my blue now.”
Amie Horn, wife of Bryant Junior High Head Football Coach Kenny Horn, enjoys watching and supporting anything Kenny is coaching or their son, Ryan, is playing. The couple met at Henderson State University, where he played baseball and she ran cross-country.
In their early years of marriage, Amie, a second-grade teacher at Salem Elementary School, enjoyed every minute of watching Kenny coach and following the team. When they had children of their own, it became more difficult to mix family routines with late-night games. Now that Ryan and their daughter, Rylee, are older, it’s easier to make a family outing out of games. Almost every game is memorable, Amie says, 14 years a coach’s wife. “Kenny can be mistaken for one of the cheerleaders sometimes when he gets excited.”
Her upbeat husband handles wins and loses well, Amie notes. “He really doesn’t bring it home too often and isn’t one to be grumpy the whole weekend, but he is determined to fix it if it needs fixing. He feels his biggest job is to help grow players into young men.” Bryant has always been a supportive community, she adds. When they lose, she jokes, “I don’t have to dress undercover in the stands or anything.” ν Jillian McGehee