Having an amazing musically talented woman as a mother, Chris grew up watching musicals. His favorite? The Music Man. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It’s funny. There is a song in it called “Iowa Stubborn”. It was a bit ironic and funny that our first full-time coaching adventure would bring us to Iowa.
Chris received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah where he spent the year as an undergraduate student coach. After graduation, he immediately hopped on a few miles west as an assistant coach at Salt Lake Community College. He spent the entire summer there at SLCC recruiting & working with the team, when another amazing coaching opportunity presented itself.
We were feeling quite stable and comfortable living in Salt Lake City. We were near lots of family and friends for the first time in the past 12 years, we had some sort of stability in our lives.I had started coaching CrossFit and was really enjoying it. Things seemed to be going well for us there in Salt Lake City. Chris received a call from John Wardenburg, the head coach at Indian Hills Community College, top Junior College in the nation. Chris has had a good relationship with Coach Wardenburg and the two coaches had been in contact quite a bit over the past 3 or 4 months. Coach called and told Chris that there was a potential opening on his staff and that he wanted to bring Chris in for an interview. He then told Chris to talk with his wife and see how they felt about the possibility of leaving Salt Lake and coaching in Iowa. Chris was very excited about the position and told coach he was very interested but he wanted to talk with me first and see how I felt. Just like we did when he received an offer to play overseas, we got online and started looking at the location of this opportunity. Indian Hills Community College is located in Ottumwa, Iowa. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either.
I threw up a wall right away. I was comfortable. My kids had wonderful friends, were on great teams for both basketball & soccer, had the best orthodontist, Zoey was in French immersion in school, etc. I wasn’t sure I wanted anything to change. We did some research. No CrossFit gym in Ottumwa. That meant no more coaching for me if we moved. No French immersion programs at any of the schools. The city, wait I think town is a better word, is small. Very small. Chris and I had talked about it and honestly I just wasn’t feeling great about the idea and Chris was being incredibly understanding. In fact, I told him flat out “no, let’s stay in Salt Lake and see where that takes us.” After a few conversations regarding this and going back and forth, he finally agreed to stay in Salt Lake and let Coach know “thanks, but no thanks.”
A couple days later, which was a Sunday evening, Coach Wardenburg called back and Chris was prepared to tell him that he wasn’t interested. Instead, he felt like he should just talk to Coach Wardenburg about our concerns instead of turning down the job. Coach said to give him a few days to do some research and that he would get back to us. A couple weeks went by and still no word from Coach. Chris and I both figured that Coach had moved on and the position was either not open or it had been filled by someone else. Then another call came. Coach said the position was officially available but figured that Chris wouldn’t be interested because after doing his research, he couldn’t find anything that would fix our concerns about moving there. The night before, Chris and I had decided that yes, actually we would be interested. It would be a huge opportunity for Chris and his coaching career. Coach said great, we will fly you out here next week for an interview.
Chris has always said he could play basketball on Mars. It didn’t matter where he was as long as he had his team and the game, he was fine. He feels the same way with coaching. The location of where we are affects me more since I am doing the day to day things with the kids. This being the case, Chris decided that it would be the best to bring me along to Ottumwa, Iowa during the interview and I agreed. The night before we left I felt that we should stay in Salt Lake City. However, we were both committed to going to Iowa with an open heart and mind and seeing how we felt once we were out there.
I knew the minute we were there that we would be coming back. I knew Chris would be offered the job and I knew Ottumwa, Iowa was where our family needed to be. I did have to convince my mind of that a little bit, but it didn’t take too much work. Chris nailed the interview as I knew he would and was immediately offered the job. It was all those little details with the kids that kept me from being 100% on board with the move. That night Chris and I were reading in our scriptures and just so happened to read Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” It was like a giant hammer to the head. I set my scriptures down and looked at Chris. It was at that point that I was 100% on board. I knew that our family was meant to move to Ottumwa, Iowa and that all those little things would be taken care of, as long as we trusted in The Lord with all our heart. I was washed over with a calmness that couldn’t be from anyone else.
As a family, we fasted and prayed about it and knew that a door was being opened for us. It was just up to us to walk through it. The next day Chris accepted the position and was officially the newest member of the Indian Hills coaching staff. We spent the next four days in Ottumwa getting all our ducks in a row. Schooling, housing, teams, and exploring the city (which didn’t take too long). Renting is very difficult to do in small town Iowa, however we were able to convince a home seller to rent their home to us for a year. This home was right down the street from the elementary school we wanted our kids to attend, as well as The Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-Day Saints church house we would be attending. As an added bonus, our next door neighbors happened to be a young couple like us who have three kids and our in our church ward. There was no doubt in our minds that Heavenly Father’s hand was in all of these things.
Once we got back to Salt Lake City we worked like tornadoes going through our house, throwing stuff out, donating stuff, and of course boxing up what we were to keep. My amazing mom took our kids up to Logan and watched them so that Chris and I could work non-stop. Sunday morning, the moving truck had left, all five kids were loaded into the van, and Jango was sitting shotgun in Chris’s car. This could only mean one thing..IT’S GO TIME!
Ten days after accepting the position at Indian Hills, flying back to Utah and packing our home as fast as we possibly could, we were back in Ottumwa, Iowa moving into our new home. #ShotgunMove
The day we arrived, Chris was at Indian Hills doing what he loves to do, coaching.
Two days later the kids were in school. Kelli Jo would be entering the 5th grade, making this her 6th elementary school over all. Zoey, entering 3rd grade, would be on her 5th school. Little Ava would be entering her first school as a kindergartener. You will have to read in another five years what her count is. I couldn’t have been more happy that it was all day kindergarten here apposed to half day in Utah. Both of us need it, probably me more than her. #MiddleChild Our girls have mastered the skill of adapting. They didn’t shed a tear when we told them we were moving and actually were very excited and curious to look on the map where their new home would be. This brought comfort to both Chris and I because a main concern was uprooting our kids from Utah and taking them away from family and friends. Because of our faith and trust in the Lord, we knew Heavenly Father had blessed our kids with a sense of calmness and excitement with our move to the Midwest. They didn’t even blink twice at going to a new school and making new friends. I’m so thankful that Chris and I can give them the opportunity to develop this life skill that will be so beneficial for them.
It just so happens that two weeks after we moved here, Ottumwa’s first and only CrossFit affiliated gym opened up. I contacted the owner, and am now coaching at the brand new CrossFit Ottumwa. Just another blessing for our family.
Beckham has started preschool as well. He loves it and I think it will be good for him to have someone else to beat up on besides his little brother Zach. #BeastMode There’s also no doubt that the First Presbyterian Preschool of Ottumwa loves having him in there three days a week because, according to Chris, “Who wouldn’t love an overgrown 3 year old who wears Avenger t-shirts like Iron Man, Hulk, & Captain America on them along with a pair of basketball shorts everyday.” #HulkSmash #AvengersSwag
I also know that little Zachary is enjoying his one on one time with mom and even some special time on Indian Hills campus with dad.
Everything has fallen into place for us here in Ottumwa. We love our home, our neighborhood, the people Chris works with at Indian Hills, the elementary school, our ward, and small town Iowa. We have definitely been blessed in so many ways.
We finished our amazing book of adventures following Chris as a player. We have now started a new book following Chris as a coach, and I know this is just a page of the amazing adventures we have to look forward to. I feel so blessed and grateful to be here, however long that might be, and look forward to turning page after page.