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Campus Life as a Head Coach’s Wife – Paulette Bonamego at CMU

Jun 11, 2019

Gameday might be the most anticipated event of the week for a head coach’s wife, but Paulette Bonamego knows firsthand that campus involvement off the field makes weekend victories even sweeter.

For John Bonamego’s return to college coaching after working in the NFL for over a decade, Paulette and her husband made a pact to give the town of Mount Pleasant, home to Central Michigan University, their wholehearted best. After all, John was no stranger to CMU. He played for the Chippewas as a wide receiver and quarterback before graduating in 1987. “John wanted to be the head coach at his alma mater. That was always his goal from the moment I met him 20 years ago. On our first date, that’s what he talked about. He wanted to come full circle and reach higher,” says Paulette.

Paulette believes establishing a familial atmosphere at CMU began at the welcoming of new recruits to the team. From the start, the Bonamego’s approach was “we are going to take these kids in like they are our own.” Paulette made certain the team knew that her and John could be relied upon. Paulette consistently attended practice, helping players navigate their athletic and personal lives. The gratitude expressed by parents and players themselves assured Paulette that her personable approach to campus involvement was well-suited for CMU. 

The Bonamegos quickly learned how different life as a head coach was from life as a special teams coordinator. With every loss and every win falling on their plate, Paulette and John knew it was their responsibility to keep campus enthusiasm at a high, even during times of adversity. Feeding dorms full of students, holding Q&A sessions, and welcoming guests into Paulette’s gameday suite let Chippewas know the Bonamegos cared about the community at CMU, through win and through loss. John’s battle with cancer during their first season did not inhibit this momentum. “He never missed a day of practice…I don’t know how he did it,” says Paulette, “The kids were playing their hearts out for him.”

Paulette recognizes that thick skin has helped her maintain a balanced position while navigating the stress of being in the public eye. She tells current and future coaches’ wives “it’s a big family, no matter how bad things get sometimes, it always comes back to the good…Just to be involved as a wife, and to have this amazing journey with my husband, is just so fulfilling.”

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