The Metro Scene

Kristi Malzahn – Outspoken and Passionate

Kristi Malzahn

Funny, Outspoken, and Passionate About Her Kids

(click link at end of article for an extended interview)

Who knew a funny girl from Fort Smith, Arkansas, would grow up to be the wife of a major college coach and land in the hot seat sometimes for her outspoken wit and straightforward style?

Kristi Malzahn, wife of Gus Malzahn, head coach of the Auburn University football team, knew from day one that she was marrying someone with the desire to be a coach. But, to grow to this level has been quite the journey.

Kristi and Gus Malzahn met while she was an eighth-grader and he a junior at Fort Smith Christian Academy. It was a small close-knit school, so when they met, he considered her just a little kid.  She said, “He thought I was enamored with him but, no, at that time I was not. And yet, when he returned to Fort Smith from college, he decided she was all grown up, and they started to date.

They were married while she was in college and started on this coaching journey together. Kristi Malzahn did not have a big lofty dream of a high-powered career. Her heart and desire early on were to become a wife and mother.  During the early years of their marriage, she was in insurance sales and made more money than her husband some of those years. She says, “At the end of the day, it was a job. I enjoyed it. It was very conducive to my schedule and to my personality. When it really came down to it my husband and kids were my career, my focus.”

The Malzahns are the parents of two girls, now young women and married. They are the grandparents to a little boy, 19 months old, and will have a new grandchild in December. As parents, the couple has worked together to discipline their children. However, there were times when they would disagree, since, as she says, both are very opinionated individuals raising opinionated females. Now that she has become a grandparent, this wonderful experience has given her a new perspective about parenting in this day and age. She said, “I always thought people were exaggerating about being a grandparent, but they’re not. I think I have way more grace for parents trying to raise children.”

When asked if she loves football, Kristi Malzahn laughs and says, “I’m not going to lie. I did not love football – I was a cheerleader so I was around sports all the time, but I wouldn’t say I loved football. I enjoy it more as a sport now.”

She is very much involved with football today, being the team mom. “I recognize the main portion of my love for football now is the kids, getting to know the kids. The personal side is what I love. The competition is fun and the stress of it is ok. Truly it’s a chess match. It’s about who can outdo who, and so that side of it I enjoy, but I am not eaten up with that side of it as I am the kids.”

Malzahn started her role of team mom about two years into their journey. “I realized there was a need for someone to be involved in that,” she said. “And the other side of it, was because of the hours he spent in it. By getting involved it allowed me to have something to connect with him. Then I realized the Lord never calls one of you in a marriage to do something that the other is going to be hurt. I realized we were a team and we’re a unit in a lot of areas. We have our individual calling and passions in some directions, but most of our stuff is together, and we move in that direction. So, it was a way to stay connected to him, realizing the need was there and there was a place for me. It has become a ministry, our ministry.”

You can see the passion she has for the Auburn team. When asked if there are favorites, she said, “I love them all. I root for all the players to do well. You obviously don’t want to see them fail. There will be some that will connect with you and allow you in a little more. Some of it is personality, some what they have grown up with, and where they come from and you have to work a little harder. Over time we grow closer. Then there are some that come in off recruiting, right off the bat. They’re in your heart and never going away. [Others] are a process, as they spend time with us, they learn they can trust and realize you care, and some are just cordial relationships – different levels with kids and how much they will allow. It takes two in any relationship to make it work.”

In response to the question about the hardest part of being a major college coach’s wife, Malzahn responded with “the unfair criticism the players and coaches receive … that feeling to not retaliate with my mouth.”

“I have an opinion and it is strong at times,” she continued. “The reality of you or your children hearing the criticism of their father from people who don’t know the ins and outs, they only see the outcomes. The bottom line is every coach is given a job performance evaluation the day after a ballgame whether it be college or high school, junior high, or NFL. It’s done in the public forum, by people whose job performance situations are not publicized in open forum for those who may or may not have a clue of what they are talking about. For most of them it’s their boss who knows and what is expected.”

She sighed and said, “It’s ok. It’s all part of the deal.”

So, what brings Malzahn joy as a coach’s wife? “Seeing what my husband is created to do and what he loves to do and fulfilling what God has placed for him. Truly having a husband who loves what he does,” she said. “It’s the old saying: Find what you love and find a way to make money doing it. We encourage our players to find their passion and then go that direction. Getting up, going to work and not loving what you’re doing can be miserable.”

“Seeing the kids” is also joyful, she said. “We start developing relationships with the kids at 15 and up. We start building those relationships. You find out what their hopes and dreams are, and most of them it is to be successful, win championships and get to the NFL as their ultimate goal.  However, we also remind them that most of the NFL players are retiring at 26-27. Very few make it past that, and you must know what you are going to do with the rest of your life. And, it’s one of those things … seeing them become men of integrity and character, walking in a way to become a productive member of society. It’s a positive plus and makes my heart happy.”

To Hear more from Kristi Malzahn Click Here For her Interview



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