Mother’s Day: Balancing Basketball and Being a Mom

Playing and coaching professional basketball is a full-time job. So is being a mom. For assistant coaches Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Erin Phillips, and veteran forward Glory Johnson, they have to balance these two full-time jobs while performing at a high level both on the court and at home.

While there are obvious perks of having a child, there are difficulties for athletes and coaches during the season. There are many games on the road, which means many nights away from their children. But with two infants, Johnson finds it difficult during the season when her kids keep her up the night before a game.

“I think the hardest part is not being able to sleep with them all the time,” said Johnson. “They are so sweet, and they actually help me sleep better. But sometimes there are nights where they don’t sleep that great and they keep me up. So I can’t always sleep with them like I want to because I won’t be able to perform the next day. That is probably the toughest part. Whenever a mother sleeps with her children, there is an attachment. But I can’t do that all the time because I have to play the next day.”

McWilliams-Franklin says it gets even harder when you move on from a player to a coach.

“It’s harder now that I’m coaching. It’s a choice. When I was drafted, I had to play for the team that drafted me because I signed a contract. This is a choice for me to be here every day and to choose being here with the players over being at home. I think this is a lot tougher and requires a lot more. But my kids are older now, so I don’t have to be there 24 hours a day. My husband is great. He’s an amazing support person for me. He’s always giving me updates so I have a heads up and feel like I’m part of the process with her as well.”

Despite the difficulties along the way, being a mother is one of the most rewarding jobs. It’s a full-time job, but a mother shapes and molds their children’s lives from the start. With 18-month old twins, assistant coach Erin Phillips says motherhood is the most amazing experience of her life.

“Being a mom is the most amazing experience I have ever had,” said Phillips. “Your whole world changes. Before you have kids, you are only really worried about yourself. But now, your whole purpose is being a parent. Your only goal is to have happy and healthy kids. It just really puts things in perspective once you have kids.”

“I enjoy motherhood so much,” said McWilliams-Franklin. “My kids make me who I am. I was a young mother unlike most of the other WNBA players. I had a kid at 17, and I was a single parent. We grew together. We learned together. I think it gives me a chance to not think so much about basketball. My daughter is 15 now, my oldest is 30. So I can go home and not hear another word about basketball. When she was little, I would come home after a bad game and she did not care. I think it prolonged my career. I went home and did not have to focus on the things I did wrong.”

With the season gearing up, these mothers know the difficulties they will face throughout the summer. All three know that basketball is just a game that doubles as a career. But nothing compares to the joy of being a mother.