2018-07-05 / Sports

Spotlight: The spouse beside the coach, Jill VerBurg

By Mike Wilson
Sports Reporter • mwilson@mihomepaper.com


CARO - Jill VerBurg is a 6th grade math teacher, mother to seven children and Laker Coach and Athletic Director Steve VerBurg’s biggest fan. 
Photo by Mike Wilson CARO - Jill VerBurg is a 6th grade math teacher, mother to seven children and Laker Coach and Athletic Director Steve VerBurg’s biggest fan. Photo by Mike Wilson CARO — Jill VerBurg, a sixth grade math teacher at North Branch schools, met her husband, Steve, while he was an assistant coach for the school’s football team, and they formed a modern day “Brady Bunch.”

Jill was a single mother of three girls, while Steve was a single father of three boys and a daughter when they met and decided to become a family.

Five years later, she is very comfortable with her role as a coach’s wife.

“I’m a mom on the sideline,” Jill said, “I’m at every game and I do whatever I can to help out.”

Being the spouse of a coach can be difficult at times, especially when it comes to disgruntled parents and fans.

“I think a lot of people say things in the heat of the moment and don’t necessarily mean it,” she said. “But I sit away from everyone, to be honest.”

Jill sought out the advice of her sister, Jane Jacobson, who is the spouse of the Sandusky High School head football coach.

“She told me just to stay away from everyone during the games,” Jill said, adding, “I don’t like it when people are negative. I am a teacher, so I want everyone to be happy, I am a nurturer.”

The couple lives in Caro, so Jill heads south to North Branch and Steve drives north to Pigeon each day. Jill’s youngest daughter is a senior at Caro High School and plays for the volleyball team, so balancing time is a big deal for the family.

“Now that Steve is the head coach (entering his second season) and athletic director,” Jill noted, “I’m probably more involved than I was before.”

Laughing when asked how she balances the time, Jill said “Well, some of the kids are out of the house now so that helps, but it’s still crazy.”

Using a large wall calendar to track everybody’s schedule is one way she keeps track of everything.

Ms. VerBurg had just returned from a 10-day fellowship in China, while Mr. VerBurg took care of the house and kids while she was gone.

“Although, I think he waited until the day before I got back to clean the house,” she said.

Jill was not an athlete in high school, having grown up in Harbor Beach where she swam in Lake Huron in the summer and ice fished in the winter. Now she enjoys crossfit and playing golf when she can. A Steven Covey fan, Jill is not one to sit around worrying about things

“I am into my career and an avid reader,” Jill said. “I love teaching and I try to find out what makes my students tick.”

She recently had a student who was struggling in her math class and she found out he was really into auto racing and actually did some racing himself. She found out all she could about racing so she could establish some common ground to reach her student.

Above all, when it comes to being the spouse of a coach, it takes word.

“And, somehow, you just make it work,” VerBurg said.

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