United Soccer Coaches is excited to announce a new initiative from the Women Coaches Advocacy Group called #MomsWhoCoach. This group is for moms, expectant mothers, or anyone thinking of becoming a mom who wants a place to share and network.
Co-Authored by Yolanda Thomas and Amanda Evans
Mom, mommy, mama, momma, mother, sometimes I want to respond with a “WHAT!!” We’re sure you can relate! Yet it’s likely the most important title we’ll ever carry. It’s tough, motherhood, but oh so rewarding.
Being a mother was never something we saw as counterproductive to our lives and careers as a coach. Yet, we have found through the years that often, others do. Anyone else ever attend a job interview while trying to hide your pregnant belly? Or make small talk with a potential employer trying to be open yet very conscientious about how much you reveal? Will they see my ability to balance my commitments to work and family as an asset or as a liability? Have you tried to fit coaching license courses between pregnancies, babies that need nursing, and children that need rearing? It’s not easy and can often prolong how long it takes us to move up the ladder compared to our male counterparts.
Recently I, Yolanda, came across some old video of me playing and my current players and friends and family were impressed and excited to see the footage. Someone mentioned, “you must be so proud” and went on and on about how amazing the footage was. Of course, I am, but I decided to show them some other footage that I’m even more proud of. It’s of me on the sideline, live on the SEC Network, coaching NCAA Div 1 soccer with my infant son strapped on my chest. Now that, that makes me proud. Born in June, he traveled almost everywhere with the team that fall season. I nursed in locker rooms, bathrooms, on the bus and at restaurants. I pumped breastmilk like a champ in hotel rooms, at airports, in buses, wherever I could find some privacy. The few times my son did not accompany the team to games, together with our athletic trainer that year, I figured out how to keep the breastmilk cold and fresh until I could return home to a refrigerator. And I did all of that while the next generation of mothers were watching.
Sometimes the going gets really tough. For most, “mother’s guilt”, will come crawling through your mind at some point. Am I doing enough? Am I away too much? Am I prioritizing my players over my own children? Will my children resent me for missing important occasions? Should I step away? The weight of these questions can become a real burden. We are so thankful for the support we’ve had through the years: our spouses, whose enthusiasm about our careers sometimes exceeds our own; the parents of young players we coach who offer to help and support when we get in a bind or just need a helping hand; the college players who are quick to babysit and set great examples for our children; and, the many male coaches and administrators we’ve worked with and for us. They’ve celebrated our motherhood while also pushing us to become a better coach and leader.
We can’t do it alone. But we can do it. And while we do it, while we coach, lead, and inspire the next generation of players we are also saying to them – you can do it, too.
More From the #MomsWhoCoach
Be sure to join us for the United Soccer Coaches podcast on April 22nd and a webinar on Thursday, May 6. We will be talking to Yolanda Thomas and Amanda Evans, leaders of #MomsWhoCoach.