I’m busy. You’re busy. Everybody’s busy.
But no one’s busy like the Gingrichs.
Matt and Carrie Gingrich lead active, hectic and sometime crazy lives.
They are lives centered around family and community, and ones filled with sports at Annville-Cleona High School.
Theirs are not totally selfless pursuits. But there are times – especially in the fall – when the Gingrichs place others’ needs ahead of their own.
“I grew up in Annville,” said Matt Gingrich. “The one thing that was very prevalent at that time was adult men giving back to their community. I just remember how much time they donated. I always thought that’s what adults were supposed to do for their community. But I love nothing more watching these young people grow into men.”
“Life’s a lot more different since we started coaching,” added Carrie Gingrich. “In the end, we do it for the kids and the community. But as crazy as our lives are, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We love the school and we love the area.”
Matt is the head coach of the Annville-Cleona football team, has been for the past nine seasons. Carrie is in her sixth year as the head coach of the Little Dutchmen field hockey team.
The Gingrichs have been married for 13 years and they are the parents to 12-year-old twin boys Austin and Tyler, and a 2-year-old daughter Harper. The boundaries between the Gingrichs’ immediate family, their extended family and their sports families are about as blurred as the line between who is supporting whom.
“We both coached when we first started dating,” said Carrie. “We are such sports enthusiasts. Family is No. 1 for us, and Matt knows how important coaching is to me. Field hockey has always been a big part of my life. Sports are in my family’s blood and in Matt’s family’s blood. Field hockey is my sport, and I didn’t want to give it up.”
“I always knew she wanted to coach field hockey,” said Matt. “I think from the very beginning the difference between us and most relationships is that we always felt responsible to the community. First is the commitment to the kids. Second is the commitment to the community. And third is the commitment to each other. That’s not typical today. I didn’t realize how many people didn’t do that anymore, and how much it’s needed.”
The fact that Carrie is a real estate agent by day, and that both sets of in-laws are helpful and always there to lend a hand allows the Gingrichs to pull all of it off. But there are also elements of problem solving, juggling, prioritizing, flexibility and putting out fires – the figurative kind, not the literal ones – at play here as well.
“If we didn’t have my parents and her parents, there’s no way we could do this,” said Matt. “Carrie pretty much tells me, ‘Here’s what we have all week and here’s where we need to be.’ I go to work when they don’t need me anymore. With football, I go to practice until they don’t need me anymore.”
“I’m not really as busy as Matt is,” said Carrie. “He’s a better planner than I am. I’m in charge of figuring out things with the kids. I think the reason we’re able to do it is the great support we have. Without my parents and Matt’s parents, I wouldn’t be able to coach. It’s the village of family and friends that’s helping us do it.”
In the fall, a typical day in the Gingrich household starts at 4:30 a.m. and ends around 8 p.m. Throughout the day, there are any number of activities that could be occurring – teaching, away games, the twins’ youth football practice, showing real estate, babysitting, watching film, crockpot meal preparation and eating on the run.
But the Gingrichs are very deliberate about making time for each other. Sundays are the one day usually spent together, often watching the Eagles play football.
“We’re always doing something,” said Carrie. “Sundays watching the Eagles, that’s our time together. As crazy as our week is, I think we do a good job of making sure we spend time together.”
“You’re 1,000% percent right that this isn’t sustainable,” said Matt. “I have thought about it (how much longer he can keep going at his current pace). Each year I think about it more. That window is definitely closing. The goal is to get through my kids. Hopefully I can make it to coach my boys. If it wasn’t for my wife, I wouldn’t be doing this. It’s not like there’s people out there beating down the door to do this.”
When it does happen, Gingrich won’t be the first coach to walk away from his position in order to spend more time with his family. It is by far the No. 1 reason why Lebanon County loses good coaches.
“If you’re a football wife, you’ve got to enjoy football,” said Carrie. “I’m a football girl. If your husband’s a good coach, they’re going to be spending time doing it. Both Matt and I are committed to our teams and players. I wouldn’t want him to do anything less.”
“I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think about how much easier our lives would be,” concluded Matt. “I’d almost feel like I’d leave down the people who influenced me if I walked away. When I do walk away, I will know I did the best I could to the best of my abilities.”
All in good time.
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