Sharon Smith Leach has been married to college football coach Mike Leach for more than three decades. They met as undergraduate students and have four children together.
Coach Leach made headlines on January 9, 2020, when it was announced that after eight seasons, he was leaving Washington State to become the head football coach at Mississippi State. ESPN reported that officials at Washington State learned of his decision hours before it was announced publicly.
Leach said in a statement, “I loved Washington State, but I am excited for the next chapter in the SEC. It’s a privilege to be a part of the MSU family.”
Sharon Leach is likely accustomed to moving around. Her husband’s coaching career has included time spent in Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Georgia, and Iowa. This is their first move to Mississippi.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Sharon Smith & Mike Leach Were Friends at Brigham Young University; Mike Used to Visit Her Apartment to Watch Television
Sharon Smith and Mike Leach both attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. They were friends before they began dating.
Sharon explained to the Seattle Times in a 2012 feature that they met because of a shared connection. Her sister married one of Leach’s former roommates. They got to know each other after that.
Coach Leach added that he used to go over to Sharon’s home at the King Henry Apartments to watch TV with her and her roommates. In the interview, he said that the girls liked to watch M.A.S.H while he preferred Gunsmoke.
Leach joked to the newspaper, “It’s almost sacrilegious to anything American and I tried to get them back on track, which I think I did successfully. Sharon was a bit of a tough case, so I had to marry her where I could keep an eye on her a lot more frequently.”
2. Mike Leach Used a Coupon Book On He & Sharon’s First Date at an A&W Restaurant
Sharon Smith and Mike Leach’s first date was to an A&W Restaurant in Provo. He reflected to the Spokesman-Review in 2013 that he asked his future wife to go eat with him following a rugby game.
Sharon was looking at the menu as she pondered what to order. Coach Leach explained that when she asked him what he was going to order, he pulled out a 2-for-1 coupon book and said, “I don’t know, but here’s the menu.” He said the gamble clearly worked; they’ve been married more than 30 years.
Sharon also told the Seattle Times that their first date was not planned out in advance and joked that it only happened because Mike had been hungry. “He probably had the two-for-one coupons and I was the freebie.”
When they got married, it’s safe to assume that Sharon took the lead in planning the wedding. Coach Leach gave a hilarious description of what wedding planning is like during an interview in 2017; it is embedded above. He advised the reporter that “women lose their minds” when it comes to wedding planning and that it’s not possible for a groom to give the “right answer” to anything. He advised grooms to largely stay out of the planning and “as far out of harm’s way as you possibly can.”
3. Sharon Leach Appears to Be Understanding About the Demands of Her Husband’s Job as a Coach
A career as a college football coach can be a demanding one with long and sometimes unpredictable hours. Sharon Leach appears to have been flexible, or at least understanding, about her husband’s job considering they have been together since their college days and married for more than 35 years.
Mike Leach alluded to what life is like for a coach’s wife in a social media post in August 2019. He shared a screengrab from a Facebook group called “Friday Night Wives,” which describes itself as a “community of coaches’ wives in search of strength and encouragement, who value our marriage, even during the longest of seasons.”
The image showcases a math problem. When a coach indicates what time he expects to arrive home, a football wife should add two hours to that estimated time. Leach commented, “My Wife Sharon has been subjected to this for decades.”
Sharon Leach told Sports Illustrated in 2014, “I don’t think many people understand just how many hours are spent coaching and recruiting a college football team. Long ago I realized that Mike’s job was coaching, and my job was everything else. I was OK with that. I loved college football as much as he loved coaching it.”
4. Sharon Leach Previously Worked as a Legal Secretary
Early on in their marriage, the Leach’s had to handle a significant amount of student debt. Mike Leach graduated from Pepperdine School of Law in 1986 but decided against a career in law in order to pursue his dream of becoming a college football coach.
According to Sports Illustrated, Sharon Leach worked as an administrative assistant and legal secretary full-time for about 14 years. She quit her job to be a stay-at-home mother in 1996 after Mike accepted a job as the offensive coordinator at the University of Kentucky.
5. Sharon & Mike Leach Have Four Children & Three Grandchildren
Sharon and Mike Leach have three daughters and one son: Janeen, Kim, Cody and Kiersten. According to Coach Leach’s bio on the Washington State football website, he and Sharon now also have three grandchildren.
Their oldest daughter, Janeen, was born in 1985. She followed in her parent’s footsteps and attended Brigham Young University. She even lived in the same apartment complex where her mother had lived. Janeen has been married since 2009.
Second daughter Kimberly arrived in 1989. She has a master’s degree in education from Texas Tech University and works as a reading specialist. She is also married.
Sharon and Mike’s only son, Cody, was born in 1996. Youngest daughter Kiersten followed in 1998.