Pregnancy & Coaching; Finding out about the pregnancy

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To kick off our series about pregnancy and coaching, we wanted to ask our coaches about their experience of initially finding out they were pregnant and the reaction of their colleagues.  As all three women are employed in their coaching positions, they are of course covered by employment law, but due to the nature of their employed jobs, was there a fear of letting their team down?  How does such a life changing situation affect a coaches ability to coach and did they plan their pregnancy in line with their season?

We asked Erika, Rikki and Shelli about the initial stages of finding out about their pregnancy and if they encountered any difficulties.

Did you pre-plan your pregnancy in line with your coaching commitments?

Erika

“For college basketball coaches, April and May are the most coveted birth months! I say that tongue in cheek because obviously a baby is just as wonderful any month of the year. But since both of my daughters were born in mid-April, it sure did make things easier at work. The springtime is the “slowest” period of the year for college basketball coaches, though there really is no offseason. My husband and I definitely talked about targeting April and May, and I happened to get pregnant in July both times. If it hadn’t worked out that way, however, that would have been fine with us too!”

Rikki

“Yes, as best we could.  I didn’t want to be taking maternity leave during paralympic year.  We planned for the winter of 2014/2015.  If it had looked like going into 2016 I probably would have stopped trying and waited until after the games.”

Shelli

“Yes, with both of my children we planned to have them both after the track & field season (NCAA Championships are in June).  With my first daughter, it was perfect.  I had her in August.  With my second child, we were a little earlier than we planned!  I will have her around the time of our conference championships in May.  I will miss both our Missouri Valley Conference Championships and the NCAA Championships/USA champs this year.”

Had you discussed the possibility of having a baby whilst still coaching with your coaching staff? 

Erika

“I did not discuss my desire to have a child with my coaching staff beforehand. The thought just didn’t cross my mind.”

Rikki

“My boss knew when I took the job that I had hoped to have another baby, but he knew that for the sake of my own career that I was going to be planning it carefully.”

Shelli

“No. I never openly discussed when I was planning on having children with my staff.  I will add, my head coach/boss is a family man and has been very supportive through two of my pregnancies.

The only real “surprise” was how early I am having my second child.  My only concern was traveling late in the season, but because our staff is so supportive, I have been able to make the appropriate accommodations with travel.”

With regards to your coaching, what were your first thoughts when you found out you were pregnant? Where you worried about your coaching job? 

Erika

“Neither time I found out I was pregnant did I worry about my coaching job. That is partly because I knew my babies were due after the basketball season ended. Another big reason I did not worry is because I had colleagues to pick up any slack. As a Division I basketball coach, I work on a staff of at least 4 people. I know many coaching mothers at different levels and in different sports do not have that luxury. Had I been the only coach of my team, it would have been a completely different situation. Lastly, I think pregnancy is different for assistant and head coaches. Naturally, head coaches are in the spotlight more, and answer to the administration. As an assistant coach, I really didn’t work with our university’s Human Resources department on anything official for my pregnancy or maternity leave aside from maybe one simple form. Other than that, I only answered to my head coaches, who were incredibly understanding.”

Rikki

“I was worried it would be twins & I would have to quit because childcare would have cost more than my salary!  Thankfully it was just the one.”

Shelli

“My husband and I were thrilled!  I was not worried about my job.  I am worried about leaving the staff and team at the end of the season.  To help alleviate my worries, I have been diligent about planning and updating our head coach and staff on our overall budget, my training plans for the event group I coach, special projects, etc., so when I step away they are all prepared and have the information they need.”

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