Beyond Athletics

Thanksgiving Weekend: Family, Food, Football

coach chmiel on the sidelines in a televised match

Few things go together like Thanksgiving and football. Whether it’s spending much of the day huddled around the TV with family, the familiar background noise of referee whistles, pads hitting, and crowds cheering, or getting a game of your own going in the backyard, the entire Thanksgiving weekend and football seem to go hand-in-hand across the country.

Growing up as the daughter of a college football coach, Thanksgiving was spent with my Mom, sisters, and extended family, and with my Dad on the sidelines brought to us by NBC, ABC, or ESPN. My Dad, Bob Chmiel, now a National Speaker for NCSA, spent over 25 years as a college football coach. The majority of his career was spent at the University of Michigan under Bo Schembechler, and at the University of Notre Dame under Lou Holtz. To say Thanksgiving and football go together in my holiday memories would be an understatement.

I remember missing my Dad a lot on Thanksgiving, but being much younger, I never really thought about just how much he must’ve been missing us. For this reason, a recent CBS post about football players’ favorite Thanksgiving recipes hit close to home. (You also know that I love thinking about delicious recipes for athletes. It’s fun to take a look at what players and coaches who took the field on Thanksgiving Day love most about the Thanksgiving meal.)

Student-athletes make sacrifices for their sport.

Something we talk a lot about at NCSA, and my Dad speaks about often in his recruiting talks, is the “4 for 40”. Deciding what school you’ll attend for the next four years, and leaving with an experience and degree that will lay the pavement for the next forty years of your life. And the commitment is real.

As a student-athlete, or in my household, a coach, it means missing Thanksgiving with your family. It means coming back from Christmas break a week early to train with your team. It means spending Spring Break on the road or in the gym, and not on a beach in Florida with the rest of your friends. Being a collegiate athlete, or coach, comes with a lot of cool perks. It comes with incredible opportunities, it comes with many fans and time in the spotlight. It also comes with great sacrifice. Quiet sacrifice. Year-in and year-out.

Being a collegiate athlete, or coach, comes with a lot of cool perks. It also comes with great sacrifice.

As an adult, I appreciate and admire my Dad’s commitment to his job and his team, and am so thankful I was raised by a man who had a true passion for his work. And as an adult, I’m even more thankful to make up for lost Thanksgiving’s now that he’s retired from coaching.

Do you have questions about how your choice in college sport might affect your time with your family? We have answers.

About the author
Laura Chmiel

Laura Chmiel is a marketing coordinator and a lead writer for NCSA Athletic Recruiting. As someone with a passion for athletics and education, she graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After school, she gained first-hand experience helping student-athletes and their families get to college.