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Sports moms are the best. Here’s 3 reasons why (other than snacks).


Meet my friend, Dana Yu.

Dana works full time as a cell biologist and vice president of research and development at a biotechnology company.

She has another role, one that she jokes about, and that might be her actual full-time job.

Dana is a sports mom. For my wife and me, Dana is the perfect sports mom. Maybe you know someone like her, the team mom who organizes everyone and wears a variety of hats.

She wipes the children’s noses and clears their doubts, cheers loudly but also knows when to remain calm and offer an arm or shoulder for support. It seems to be in her DNA to not only multitask, but to make it look easy.

“She does so much that I can’t keep up with her,” says Chris Antolek, Dana’s husband. “Dana tells me where to go and when.”

Dana Yu (center left) stands from left to right with her son Caius, husband Chris, and son Marcus at a tournament in Cooperstown, New York, during the summer of 2022.

Dana counted Little League board member, scorekeeper, team events coordinator, video presenter, first aid provider (“I always have my first aid kit ready to go!” she says) and assistant coach among her many unofficial positions.

Most of all, Dana is a root builder — for their sons, Caius, 15, and Marcus, 14, and for all the boys on the Northern Virginia baseball teams.

“What makes me love being a sports mom is not just that I get to spend a lot of time with my kids,” she says. “I love getting to know my teammates and their families. They are my community.”

This weekend, as we honor what our wives and mothers mean to us, we can also salute their roles in sports that can sometimes go unappreciated, if not unnoticed.

Athlete mothers are often the drivers of our children’s athletic endeavors, and their love continues whether those endeavors are achieved or not. Whether they are biologists, teachers, or national championship-winning coaches, they are always mothers first. Here are three reasons to celebrate them all.

1. Mathematical moms are everywhere

Maryland women’s basketball coach Brenda Freese has to miss a lot of her sons’ games, but she’s always fresh in the minds of her 16-year-old twins, Tyler and Marcus.

“When you make it work, the kids are excited to have their mom in the stands watching the movie,” says Mark Thomas, Freese’s husband. “Then they always choose to go home with her and not with me.”

Tyler was diagnosed with leukemia when he was two years old. He was treatable, and anytime his parents saw him on the court or field, they cherished his health and ability to play. Freeze sits quietly in the stands and takes meticulous notes on her sons’ performances, offering feedback only if they come to her for it. They often do.

“You have your own opinions but I would never express them to my son,” she told USA TODAY Sports last year. “It must be their way.”

The twins have also absorbed what a well-organized program looks like, their father says, by hanging out with the Maryland Freezes and feeding the players their mother’s lineup shots and tips.

Brenda Freeze and her children, Tyler (left holding Archie) and Marcus.

“Brenda thrives in situations where there are a lot of moving parts,” Thomas says. “I’m not ashamed to admit that often times women are better planners than men, and I think that helps a lot on a sports team. When I was coaching youth teams, my best team managers were mothers.

“Team managers handle things like communicating with parents, organizing who brings snacks, team parties, etc. But they do a good job as head coaches, too. I think a lot of moms have a nurturing presence. And sometimes they see things a little differently “For men, there can be a healthy balance between the involvement of both mothers and fathers.”

Due to the demands of Freeze’s job, Thomas supervises the boys’ activities. But when mom comes home, Thomas says, they forget about him.

“I became invisible,” he says with a laugh. “But the dog still loves me.”

Even if the athlete mom isn’t physically present, trust me, she is. It may exist in the minds of athletes, like Freeze, or appear in the way they play. Or their fingerprints could be on the new uniforms, Bags of snacks and countless extras Which goes into maintaining a youth sports team.

Coach Steve: What do we do with youth sports? Brenda Freeze asks

2. Master in Logistics

Like Freeze, Kim Newsom, who lives with her family near Princeton, New Jersey, has been a constant reassuring presence for her children. Unlike Freeze, she wasn’t always calm. That’s usually the role of her husband Leon, the former Princeton football player who now serves as the NBA’s chief security officer.

“I’m there on the sidelines losing my mind, and the former athlete[says]’That was a mistake. OK, get the next one,'” she jokes.

Kim, a teacher by trade, and Leon have three children: Grant, 27; Garrett, 22; and Jeans, 15 years old. Garrett and Gaines excelled at baseball. Grant played baseball extensively before switching to football and ending up starting on the offensive line for the University of Michigan.

Kim was not a very competitive athlete growing up in the 1980s. Even when she met Leon at Princeton, she admits she never thought about being a sports mom. She had no idea of ​​the complications that went into it.

“I became an expert in logistics,” she says. “Practice or games for each child two to three times a week, and on weekends that often involved traveling far enough to need to stay in a hotel, and figuring out who was taking which kids where. My husband traveled a lot for work, so that was always something We do have to take into account the equation as well.

“Oh, and the laundry, oh my goodness, is never done with three boys. I was telling a friend yesterday that the biggest surprise from our youngest son’s school was that they wash their baseball uniforms.”

Kim Newsome (second from left) visits a Michigan football game last season to see her son Grant (second from right), who is the team's assistant coach.  Grant's wife, Caroline, is on her left and her brother, Garrett, is on the far right.

Being a sports mom is something you grow into and learn to thrive. We’ve all had those scary games on the weekend at 8am. Kim always loved finding a bakery to make sure the boys on the team had cake early in the morning. The mental burden of planning and making sports an experience beyond the basics is overwhelmingly handled by sports moms, in my experience.

“Really, I just try to make it fun so it never feels too tiring for the kids who are in a baseball tournament all weekend long,” she says. “Other mothers made sure we always had wine available for the hotel lobby at night, which was great. We all had our roles.”

Being a sports mom, of course, goes much deeper. Grant seemed destined for the NFL when a devastating injury ended his career in 2016 and threatened to break his leg.

When he was initially injured, he wanted to get off the field so as not to worry Kim, who was watching from the stands.

“Of course I was worried,” she says.

After Grant retired from football, he earned a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree from Michigan in public policy. He is now the offensive line coach for the Wolverines.

As sports moms know, wins and losses, while important at the time, are secondary. They want our children to emerge victorious from the sporting experience.

“Grant’s injury was a real, profound ordeal for him and our family,” Kim told me last spring, still emotional. “The way he handled it, the way our little boys handled it — I mean, for 38 days, when he was in the hospital, neither of their parents was ever home because we were cooperating with Grant. The parents and Leon’s mom intervened.

“As a mother, I am proud of my sporting achievements but even more so.”

Coach Steve:How Grant Newsom and his parents coped with unexpected change

3. They never stop being mothers – to anyone who needs it

Three years ago, Kim and his middle son, Garrett, woke up in the dark on the Friday after Thanksgiving to drive to Ann Arbor. They wanted to see Michigan play Ohio State and see Grant coach.

I remember a similar early morning when I arrived at my friend Dana’s house to pick up my oldest son, Connor. I let him and his brother sleep over so my wife and I could have a night out.

Connor had a baseball game. He told me that not only did Dana wake him up on time, but she made him a full breakfast to eat before the game.

Dana’s warmth has always shone through in her authoritative role, which, as all sports moms know, extends far beyond your children.

“I’ve been so lucky to see the children and their friends and classmates grow together,” she says. “I love encouraging their friends and seeing their success as much as I love my own kids. But I love that the kids, their families and their coaches always know that I will be eager to help in any way I can.”

My youngest son, Liam, and I are with Dana at a tournament this weekend. Dana coordinates carpooling among several families on the team (“I have an elaborate spreadsheet!” she says) and plans lunch and evening activities.

There will probably come a moment after the boys’ last game on Mother’s Day when our coach asks them to walk up and hug their parents for taking them here.

If you’re attending a game somewhere, be sure to hug your favorite athlete mom, too. Because she is the real hero on the sidelines.

Coach Steve's favorite athlete, Colleen Borelli, works the snack bar at high school baseball games and always makes sure her family has something to eat for dinner, no matter what her plans are.

Steve Borelli, also known as Coach Steve, has been an editor and writer for USA TODAY since 1999. He spent 10 years coaching his two sons’ baseball and basketball teams. He and his wife, Colleen, are now athlete parents to a high school and middle school student. His column is published weekly. To view his previous columns, click here.





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