Adia Barnes combined coaching and motherhood when she breastfed her child during the NCAA women’s finals

Adia Barnes led Arizona on a stirring run to the national title game, but she also made time to do something much more important.

By Joel Alderman

This is a first for Roundball Daily, which is a collection of mostly basketball stories. It may turn some of our readers “off,” but it should not. It is a tale as current as the just concluded NCAA tournaments. It is a story for the times.

Adia Barnes is the coach of the Arizona women’s team that engineered the upset of its tournament in defeating the top-seeded University of Connecticut and doing it with unexpected ease. It brought the Wildcats to the championship game with Stamford. And that’s where today’s culture took over.

Barnes, the outspoken coach who may or may not have directed a finger at Uconn during a time out late in the semi-final, is also a mother of two, including a 6-month-old girl, Capri. The child was at the Stanford game when she exhibited the desire to be fed.

Adia Barnes took a break from coaching Arizona in the national championship game to do her most important job– care for her baby girl.

Game not in the way of breastfeeding

Speaking about on-demand feeding, this was a top example. No matter that it was halftime of the championship game with the Cardinal and Arizona trailing by seven points.

So, mommy had to pump some breast milk under the stands and in relative privacy, just as the second half was about to begin. She got back to the court a little late, but the reason was not lost on Holly Rowe, ESPN sideline reporter.

She said on the air, “for those of you who think this is too much information, let’s normalize working mothers and all they have to do.”

Whereupon Capri nursed on her bottle and Barnes saw her team rally, only to lose, 54-53, to Stanford. At least the child was satisfied.

The 44-year-old coach and her husband Salvo Coppa, also have a son, Matteo. She played in the WNBA for seven seasons with the Houston Comets, Seattle Storm, Minnesota Lynx, and Sacramento Monarchs.

“You can be a mom; you don’t have to stop coaching. You just have to have support, and a village,” she told Cindy Boren of the Washington Post.

Salvo Coppa is a Wildcats assistant coach whom she met while playing in Italy. Because she is breastfeeding, Capri and Matteo had to be counted in the team’s 34-person travel party and the decision to include them was made for her.

“I had a baby right when the season started. Took like a week off,” she told reporters after the championship game. “After having a C-section, it was hard, but my team loved on me. I missed a couple weeks. I got a little sick. They fought for me. I came back. They were patient.

“I’m happy. I represented moms and I have a baby here — I can hear her crying, ready to feed. You can be a coach at an elite level. ”

No excuses for the finger

As for the extended finger, she tweeted “I was so pumped up it was the heat of the moment and it was supposed to be a private moment with my team! I told them WE BELIEVED IN US! FORGET EVERYONE THAT DIDN’T, I WILL GO TO WAR WITH U ANYTIME ANY PLACE!! Not the best look, but I was loving on my team.”

The women’s tournament will be remembered as one that featured two black head coaches in the Final Four (Barnes and South Carolina’s Dawn Staley) for the first time. Barnes said after the tourney ended that she “represented a lot of things. . . representing moms, former players, women of color — these things made me coach a little harder.”

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