Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Baby Shower Game for Expectant Athletes, Coaches and Serena Williams: Part 1

Several interesting questions have risen since Serena Williams' confirmed to her fans and the world that she is indeed pregnant. My students wondered if playing in (and winning!) the Australian Open early in her pregnancy compromised the baby's health. Serena isn't the first, and certainly not the last to give it a go; like all medical matters, consult your physician. 

It is natural to inquire about her future with the game and in the game. Through her agent, she has announced that she will not play in any more tourneys in 2018, but those who know and love Serena understand how much she loves tennis and the extent of her competitive drive. Williams, is not only one of the most prominent athletes in the world she is one of the game's all time greatest. As written in the New York Times
By winning in Australia, Williams broke her tie with Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slam titles in the Open era. Williams ranks behind only Margaret Court's 24 on the career list. Court, an Australian, won the last three of those titles in 1973 after giving birth to a son, Danny, in 1972. 
Will she win another Grand Slam title? How will pregnancy affect Serena's chase for the title? Tennis players like Kim Clijsters won the US Open in 2009 and 2010 as well as the Australian Open in 2011 after the birth of her daughter Jada in 2008. 

My own student, a tennis player wrote, I believe her pregnancy might even inspire her to rise to different level. I heard that she has spoken quite a bit in the past about having children, so I think it could possibly help her focus. She could realize that she might not want to extend her career as much, resulting in her using the next couple years to put herself far out of reach from other players as the best woman to ever play. I'm also excited to find out as well... I love his insight; I think she would too.

I want to know where she will have the baby. Given that her fiancĂ© Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian lives in San Francisco, I hope she has this future great athlete at CPMC, the city's baby factory. Will she have a boy or a girl? What kind of mother will Serena be? Like her father Richard, will she write a 78-page manifesto for this child's greatness? And whose net worth is greater—Serena's or Ohanian's? 

All of these questions, obscure and insignificant, life changing, some even inappropriate are but a reflection to me that Serena Williams is much more than a great tennis player. To me, she is a cultural icon that I study, follow, and admire. She is my favorite female athlete. Her older sister, Venus is my second. I am excited for this new chapter in Williams' life and what the narrative will be. I would be more than happy to throw a baby shower for her, and if I did here's information about the game the attendees would play.

First, let me offer a disclaimer: most of the women I love and respect are not keen on "shower games." Wedding and baby showers have what too many of these obligatory rituals. They are meant to facilitate interaction between guests before the shower of gifts that the honoree is required to publicly open. I think it's safe to say though showers are joyful occasions, but these shower games are painful? awkward? well-intentioned but weird...I hope and believe however, I have found a solution.

Disclaimer #2, this game is for a certain demographic: the expectant athlete, coach or sports fan. These women are inherently competitive. We should take to games like we do to our respective sport. Framing this shower game into our paradigm may help. All this game requires is a color printer, a pencil and a knowledge of sports.
Coach Sanchez & her baby!

Identify great female athletes who have had children/are moms.
Print their photo on an 8" x 10" piece of paper (you can use the images I post in the next blog).
  • Have guests name the athlete on a lined sheet of paper.
  • If the picture you use features an athlete in her professional attire, offer bonus points if guests can name what college she played for. 
  • Offer additional points for any fun facts they can offer.
  • Don't forget to include a photo—an action shot—of the guest of honor. It's safe to say many of those in attendance have probably been a teammate, coached with this woman, run, lifted, trained and competed beside her. 
I created this game for my dear friend and beloved colleague, Haley. The head of our girls field hockey program, Haley is one of THE best athletes and coaches I know. She is also a true sister in the sorority of coaching. I loved honoring her with not only a baby shower but making her the highlight a game at her shower was real winner.

I want to wish Serena the very best of health in her pregnancy and blessings for the birth of her first child. I will add her to the list female athletes in this shower game for the next honoree (or for her...I don't live far from Dolores Park girl!)

Game to be included in the NEXT posting.

Photo Credit


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