Brooke Wyckoff laughs at the thought now, but when the 37-year-old Florida State women’s basketball assistant found out she was pregnant, she remembers thinking, “How hard could this working mom thing be?”
A former standout forward for the Seminoles, Wyckoff had seen other female coaches balance basketball and family. The first two years of her career, Wyckoff considered herself a solid multitasker. Then she had a baby, and her respect for working mothers — especially coaches — increased exponentially.
“There’s nothing like winning a big game on the road,” Wyckoff says, “then asking the trainer for a bag of ice to keep your breast milk cold while you walk through airport security with a cooler.”
The women’s NCAA tournament is here, and Wyckoff and third-seeded Florida State are seeking the program’s first trip to the Final Four. Avery, her 4-year-old daughter, will watch from the stands. Across the country, dozens of moms — and dads — in coaching will spend the next few weeks juggling scouting reports and nursery rhymes, balancing practice and play dates. While working dads are seen in sidelines across the country, it’s the moms who say they have unique challenges on the job.
Working moms are the norm, according to the U.S Department of Labor: Statistics show that 70% of mothers with children under 18 work, with “over 75% employed full-time.” But moms who work as Division I basketball coaches know it’s not just a full-time gig — it’s an all-the-time gig. They spend about 100 nights a year on the road, schedule births around the recruiting calendar, plan parent-teacher conferences between big games.
They’re honest about their struggle with “mom guilt,” a crippling force working mothers everywhere can relate to. They are exhausted — and empowered.
“Being a mom in coaching is like being part of a special sorority,” says Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier, mother of three. “But sometimes people don’t really get that working moms are ass-kickers.
“People need to watch out. Working moms can take over the world any minute now.”