Keeping it in the family: Soccer co-head coaches learn to balance life and work

Baylor soccer co-head coaches Paul and Marci Jobson are the only married co-head coaches in all of college soccer. Baylor sits with a record of 5-3 with two games left to go until Big 12 conference play opens. Carlye Thornton | Lariat Photo Editor
Baylor soccer co-head coaches Paul and Marci Jobson are the only married co-head coaches in all of college soccer. Baylor sits with a record of 5-3 with two games left to go until Big 12 conference play opens.
Carlye Thornton | Lariat Photo Editor
By Jeffrey Swindoll
Sports Writer

Baylor has become home to several families in athletics over the years. Baseball coach Steve Smith coached his two sons Ryan and Case last season; women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey did the same with her daughter, Makenzie Robertson, throughout her college career. But no other team has a husband and wife duo like Baylor soccer coaches Paul and Marci Jobson.

The Jobsons are entering their seventh year of shared coaching duties at Baylor, and 10th year coaching together overall. Over that stretch, they are one of only two such pairings in college athletics, along with Clarkson women’s hockey co-head coaches Shannon and Matt Desrosiers.

A husband and wife coaching together is a unique dynamic. There are rare instances of father-son duos, like Mike and Kyle Shanahan when they coached the Washington Redskins together. However, even that was a chain of command, and not an instance of husband and wife working together as equals.

Learning to juggle commitments became one of the couple’s biggest challenges over the years.

Early into their marriage and career as coaches, Marci was called up to play in a world cup by her former coach at SMU. Marci was 29 years old at the time, well past the normal age to debut for a national team. Rightfully so, it came as a shock to Paul and Marci who had recently started coaching together at Northern Illinois University.

Marci represented the United States at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and became the oldest first-time participant in a World Cup. She earned 17 caps (national team appearances) while maintaining a full-time coaching job at Northern Illinois University for about three years with her husband.

“Looking back, it was crazy,” Paul said. “When we were in it, it was kind of like, ‘OK, this is what we have to do.’ And we got it done.”

The Jobsons accepted their coaching jobs at Baylor in 2008 and led the team to a Big 12 Conference championship in 2012. Marci was the official head coach until last year, when her husband Paul was promoted to co-head coach.

“I think when you throw three kids into the mix, [coaching with Paul] can get tricky at times when you’re both tired, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Marci said. “He’s the best assistant, co-head coach or whatever you want to call it out there. He’s exceptional at his job and exceptional with the girls. I don’t think I could do this job if he wasn’t my co-head coach.”

It is hard to find a husband and wife coaching duo at any level in sports, and somehow the Jobsons have not only made it work, but excelled at one of the highest levels of soccer in the country.

“I haven’t ever been coached by a husband and wife, but it’s great,” freshman forward Precious Akanyirige said. “It just adds to the family atmosphere. They work great with each other and work off each other. A huge thing for Baylor soccer is this family atmosphere and it just starts with them.”

The Jobsons helped take the Baylor soccer program from irrelevant to conference champion. They were the catalysts for Baylor soccer’s rise to prominence in the Big 12, as well as the program’s increase in credibility with the university.

With a brand new training facility on the way, set to open in spring 2015, the Jobsons revolutionized the soccer culture for Baylor and Waco.

A good sense of community and family is a big point of focus across Baylor University and the Jobsons exemplify that to their players in a very practical way, Akanyirige said.

“I was walking up to practice the other day and was thinking to myself ‘What other coaching staff would play in an entire scrimmage against our team,’” junior midfielder Bri Campos said. “I think they’re so involved and just love on every person within our team. It doesn’t matter who you are, starter, not starter or whoever it is, I think they do an awesome job of making you feel special.”

There aren’t exactly a plethora of handbooks for how to coach in a scenario such as this. It can be tricky feeling out the way to go about coaching with one’s spouse, but current and past players praise the Jobsons’ understanding of roles and respect as co-workers and family members at the same time.

“We always talk about how much we admire them for the teamwork and the partnership that they have,” ex-Baylor soccer player Carlie Davis said. “They never step on each other’s toes, and they never have power over each other, but they kind of complement each other really well.”

There were quite a few obstacles but the Jobsons overcame times of uncertainty in their professional careers to succeed and enjoy family, faith and soccer together.