With millions of viewers watching, ESPN reporter Holly Rowe detailed Barnes' routine during a half-time report. Explaining why Barnes had come out of the locker room a little later than her team, Rowe said: "She's back in the locker room pumping. She's still a breastfeeding mother. They have to warm up the breastmilk with the heat packs that are here on the sidelines," Rowe explained. "She is doing it all." Then, Rowe said something that may have made some moms watching at home stand up and cheer. "For those of you who think this is too much information, I'm just gonna tell you this: let's normalize working mothers and all that they have to do to make it all happen."
Following the game, Barnes shared more details of her journey as a mom and coach of one of the best women's college basketball teams in the country. "I had a baby right when the season started, and took like a week off. It says I took a month off but I did not. I was on Zoom calls four days after having a C-section, so it was hard," Barnes explained in a post-game press conference. "But my team loved on me. I missed a couple of weeks, I got a little sick, they fought for me. I came back. They were patient... I'm happy," she said.
Barnes, who is also a former WNBA player, said she was aware that a woman in her role would have a lot of eyes on her and she wanted other mothers to see her and know that they can do it, too. "I represented moms. I have a baby here, I hear her crying ready to feed. I represent moms, you can be a coach, you can be at an elite level. You can do it, you just have to have a village like I do," she said. "I represent Black females, don't get here too often and don't get opportunities. But I had an opportunity today on the biggest stage and represented a lot."
Even before the championship, Barnes had been vocal about it balancing the demands of motherhood and a big career. "You don't have to be afraid to be a mom and be a coach. I have a baby, I'm up at night with a baby. You can have a six-month-old, you can do a job, you don't have to stop coaching because you're a mom," she said in an interview with Wildcat Authority.
We are absolutely in awe of Coach Barnes and the powerful example she's setting for other moms. Being a mama is a big job in itself, but adding on a career and breastfeeding on top of it? It can be incredibly overwhelming for mothers to figure out how to juggle it all. Mamas like Barnes—who are open and unabashed about both the difficulties and the benefits—help make it a little more possible for other moms to confidently follow in their footsteps.