By Madison Dyer
Wise grandmothers often say that behind every great man is a great woman. Beside every head coach is his wife who supports the team and encourages them along the way. For their 14 years of marriage, Oxford native Ashley Luke has been supporting her husband, Matt Luke, along his football coaching journey and now, head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels football team.
After being at the University of Tennessee and Duke, the Luke family moved back to Oxford in 2011. Luke said she and her family feel lucky they were able to come home to family and friends and to where Matt played football.
“It was always our prayer and our dream to come back here. Being able to come back to Oxford and Ole Miss has truly been a blessing,” Luke said.
Oxford has always been home to Luke. Whether it was going to football games throughout her life or moving back to establish roots, Oxford holds a special meaning to her. Not only has it been Matt’s opportunity of a lifetime, but it was also hers.
Luke says the best part of being a football wife is forming lifelong friendships with the players, coaches, and coaches wives. She loves seeing the players become successful in sports and in their careers.
“I know realistically that there are highs and lows, and that’s with anything in life. In this profession, our players put in a lot of hard work. I’m there to build them up and give them support when they need it. Knowing that they give it their all when they get out on the field makes me beam with pride,” she said.
Through every touchdown, penalty, win and loss, Luke said that this whole journey has made her stronger. She leans on supportive friends like Karen Cutcliffe, Camie Bianco, and other wives who are in similar situations as her when she needs advice in a world not many people understand.
Bianco said talking to others who may have lived the same situations is key to weathering any storm.
“There’s a lot of people you can talk to like friends and family, but another coaches wife actually gets it because they live it,” said Camie Bianco, Ole Miss head baseball coach Mike Bianco’s wife. “I have found over the years that sometimes it’s just nice to talk to Ashley, Betty Davis, or other coaches wives because they understand and live the same life.”
There are many exciting parts of football season, especially in Oxford. Luke says one of her favorite things on game day is tailgating on the practice field with the other coaches wives and family before the game. Away games also give Luke a chance to travel with her two boys and the team.
“My kids and I love to travel with Matt and the team to the away games. We are making so many wonderful memories. I remind my sons how lucky they are to have this experience,” Luke said.
Being a wife and mother is not the only area in which Luke excels. Giving back to the community is also important to her and her family, she said. Luke was a former six-year board member for the Oxford School District Foundation that raises money for teachers to use in their classrooms. Along with that, Luke and her family are involved with the Palmer Home for Children, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and many other organizations in the Oxford community.
“The Oxford community means a lot. The people here make it why we love it so much,” she said.