Pregnancy & Coaching; Meet the Coaches

Whilst there seems to be an abundance of research on women who exercise when pregnant, there is no real research into women who coach whilst pregnant and how it affects them before, during and after they start a family.  As all coaches know, coaching itself is a lifestyle commitment and one that takes over almost every element of ones life, with successful coaches always having to put the needs of their athletes first.  But what happens when the coach has to put their own needs first? 

Many retired female athletes who have dedicated their lives to their sport, do not want to go into coaching for the reason of wanting a family…so how do women who are already coaches start a family whilst staying a coach?

Currently, the most high profile of women coaches who are pregnant is Amelie

However, Amelie’s story is certainly not new and of course thousands of women around the World deal with this situation at some point in their coaching career.  If you are lucky enough to be an employed coach, there are of course many employment laws that cover you with regards to maternity leave and ensuring that your team / athletes are catered for when you are away.  But the difficulty arises when you take in the demands of coaching versus the demands of being a new mum.  All of a sudden you are faced with the dilemma of needing to commit yourself to the emotions of your players with the emotions of your new child, the need to be present during a championship match with the need to be present at those special moments of having a new born baby.  So how is it done and is this something that worries you as a coach and a mum?  

In a ‘job’ where every week counts and things can change in an instant, how do these women manage to keep in touch with their team whilst being on maternity leave and how do they catch up after such a long time away from the ever evolving world of sport? 

Over the next couple weeks, we will be sharing with you some thoughts and experiences from three female coaches who are employed as coaches and their journey through pregnancy and getting back in the game.

We introduce you to our coaches Erika, Rikki and Shelli.

Name:  Erika Lambert Nationality: USA Coaching Role: Associate Head Coach

Number of children: 2 daughters. Ava (4) & Mya (2)

Current coaching situation: I will begin a new job as the Associate Head Women’s Basketball Coach at NCAA Division I Abilene Christian University (Abilene, Texas) this month. 

Name: Rikki Bingham  Nationality: British. Coaching Role: Paralympic Compound Specialist (part time) – Archery GB

Number of children: 2

Current coaching situation: “I am just about to start back work after 6 months maternity leave, my daughter is almost 5 months old and my son is 3 years old.

Name: Shelli Sayers. Nationality: US

Coaching Role: Associate Head Track & Field Coach at the University of Northern Iowa

Number of children: 1, and 1 on the way

Current coaching situation: I primarily coach the women’s sprints/hurdles/relays, while overseeing both the men and women’s track & field/XC programs at a NCAA Division 1 institution as the Associate Head Coach.  I have been coaching for 11years, and have been in my current position for 5 years.  I have a 2 ½ year old daughter and I am expecting my second daughter in May.

Join us for the next in the series as our coaches tell us their experiences about planning their pregnancy around their coaching carrer and how they revealed their pregnancy to their teams.