Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn hugs his wife Kristi Malzahn after winning the 2013 SEC Championship game against the Missouri Tigers at Georgia Dome. Auburn won 59-42. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Wife's Perspective On Sports: Introducing A New Voice On City Of Champions


City of Champions co-editor Matt Gajtka welcomes his wife Jillian for her first bi-monthly “Wife’s Perspective” column, which takes an alternative view on the world of sports.

For months now, my husband Matt has been asking me to take a stab at writing a column based on the wife’s point of view. I was a little hesitant at first because I did not go to school for journalism; however, I’ve been around sports my entire life, so I thought could offer some perspective.

Before I get into my first column, let me tell you how I got to this spot.

Growing up, my family had Single-A minor-league baseball players live with us for 11 seasons, starting when I was nine years old. My days as a youth were spent at the ballpark, sometimes by myself when I couldn’t convince my parents to go to a fifth game in a row, and seeing sports from an insider’s view.

Because of this constant intake, along with playing almost every sport, my dad always told me I’d make a guy happy someday. Not only did I like sports, more importantly I understood sports.

Flash forward to college where I met and eventually married Matt, who conveniently focused on sports while getting his journalism degree. From the day we got married, I knew that where we lived would most likely be dictated by my husband’s profession.

Through five years of marriage, I can honestly say that’s the case. So far in our relationship, we’ve called Charleston, W.Va., Youngstown, Ohio and my native Grand Rapids, Mich., home. For each city listed above, there have been dozens of close calls for other places we thought we might be moving to: Ann Arbor, Mich.; Toledo, Ohio; Chicago (twice); Pittsburgh; Bakersfield, Calif.; Fort Myers, Fla; Orlando; Erie, Pa; and Colorado Springs, Colo.

Matt wasn’t always a finalist for all the jobs in those cities, but they were all ones at which we thought he had a pretty good shot. Even though we never moved to any of these places, I’m someone who likes to plan ahead and still spent hours investigating each city for apartments and what the city had to offer.

After going through this process several times with nothing panning out, I know how wives of professional athletes must feel. Most are settled once their husbands get to the highest level of their sport (which I hope is eventually our case), but the road to get there must be difficult.

Our situation thankfully gives us some time and input into where we live, but in sports, families don’t have that opportunity most of the time. They can get settled in a city, only to find out that they’re husband has been traded and has to be in his new town in 24 hours.

In this column, I hope to challenge your point of view and know that athletes aren’t the only ones affected by what happens on and off the field. Their wives and families are, too.

Jillian is a marketing director for a credit union. Her favorite teams are the Detroit Tigers and Michigan Wolverines. She follows the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pirates because of her husband.

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Tags: Wife's Perspective

  • Allison Kuslikis

    Great job, Jillian. Hope to see more from the wife’s perspective.