As we approach the end of another football season, it’s easy to become nostalgic.
“Where did the time go,” I often hear repeated.
For two people in particular, one you are very familiar with and one perhaps not as much, the end of another football season marks a powerful anniversary. On Sunday, Dec. 18 Nick and Terry Saban will celebrate 45 years of marriage.
But their love story began long before that.
I talked to Terry Saban this week about her life with one of the most famous coaches to ever grace the game – her husband.
“Perhaps it was foreshadowing of things to come, but I first saw Nick in fifth grade at a Pop Warner meeting of the Black Diamonds, where he was the quarterback, and the East Side Rockets,” Terry Saban told Gridiron Now. “I was wearing my Rocket cheerleading skirt when I saw him jogging across the field towards me. Like a bird, preening its feathers to attract a male, quickly I did my best cartwheel right in front of him, he jogged on past without a glance.
“It wasn’t until two years later, at YMCA science camp, that we met up and actually talked and decided, as seventh graders do, that we are going to ‘go steady,’ which means we’ll sit together on the bus to the dairy farm. In the mountains of West Virginia, if you live a few miles away, you might as well live a continent away since social media was (Ray Bradbury) fiction.
“So it wasn’t until high school that we saw each other on the sideline of a football game; he, still in his quarterback uniform; I had traded my bulky cheerleading uniform in for a sleeker, military-style, drum majorette uniform. He called that night.”
I moved to Tuscaloosa in the fall of 2009 to work for the Tuscaloosa News. At least twice a week I attended press conferences with Coach Saban. Game recaps, prognostications and not making him (too) mad were on the top of my list, but at the same time I was looking for the human element.
It quickly became apparent to me how much Nick Saban loved (and loves) his wife. Normally he wore an expression that appeared as if he wished to be anywhere else; it was only when he talked about “Miss Terry,” the name he calls her, that a grin crept across his face. He told us how she picked out his clothes, told him where to go and how to get there, and in so many words, how she rules the roost. Someone who was on the precipice, at that time, of being the most dominant coach in college football, had someone even more powerful in his eyes standing behind him.
Those are things you can’t forget.
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