Tracey (Tarkington) Wolff didn’t take the typical path to her new post as an assistant basketball coach at Loyola Marymount. After getting her start at SW Missouri State (now Missouri State) as a GA, Tracey spent 10 years as an assistant at Marquette, helping the Golden Eagles to the NCAA Tournament six times. She then left coaching, investing the next decade working for Athletes in Action and then Mercy Ministries. Tracey returned to the coaching ranks at LMU in April 2012.
1. After a decade as an assistant coach at Marquette, you chose to leave coaching to pursue other endeavors. How did you know it was time to make that choice?
The biggest thing I noticed was that I was having to “drum up” enthusiasm for my job. I knew that had to bea sign of burnout. I also found myself dreaming about doing something else and desiring to new experiences. I can look back now and see that God was placing a calling in my heart and was drawing me toward a new endeavor.
2. What are a few new perspectives you gained in your careers after your first coaching stint that will impact how you coach this time around?
I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for our need as human beings to be fully engaged in every aspect of life. The last time around, I was 100% invested in my career but only partly invested in my own growth spiritually, socially, and even physically in someways.
I have definitely learned to make time for friends and family and to really be fully engaged when I’m with them. Finding better balance isn’t necessarily about time management. It’s actually about being fully present during the time I have with God, my husband, family & friends, players, coworkers, and so on.
I’ve noticed with my husband that we both feel far more satisfied after a phone call if neither of us are distracted during the call. It’s better for me to call when I get home from work rather than at work with players in and out of the office. Quality versus quantity.
3. You’re living apart from your husband for the first time as your family transitions to California. What is the best advice you’ve received about how to keep that important relationship strong?
Find ways to keep doing some everyday mundane things together. For example, we pay bills together on Skype. He will call me and open the bills while I get online on our bank site. That allows us to stay connected about household finances and issues. It helps me stay more connected with my home and family.
The other big piece of advice from several coaches was to find time EVERY MONTH to see each other face to face and to be realistic about when and where given each of our schedules. We have a tentative plan all the way through next spring. We worked around my travel itinerary and the unpredictable times in my schedule and around his very sporadic church schedule.