Coaching is a stressful job. Doing it while pregnant, takes that to a whole new level.
However, if anyone has been able to pull it off flawlessly, it has been Fort Mill head girls lacrosse coach Kellianne Wunk, who is due this month and is on her second stint of coaching while pregnant.
Wunk is in her fourth year with the team, third as head coach and said coaching while pregnant, especially deep into the third trimester is a lot to juggle.
“I’m kinda pushing it,” she joked.
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This isn’t the first time Wunk has coached while pregnant. Her 18-month-old daughter was born to Wunk and her husband, Andrey two months after the season a couple years ago. Like the first time around, she doesn't know the gender of the baby and is waiting until she gives birth to find out.
“The first time around I was about seven months along, but not to the point I was worried about being out there,” she said.
Wunk said she knows there are limitations in coaching while this far along in pregnancy, so she takes some things into consideration throughout a season in which her team is 9-3 heading back after spring break.
“Other than the obvious physical drawbacks like I am a little more out of breath, the biggest hurdle is me not being able to go out there and demonstrate different skills and drills that I would normally being showing them,” she said. “Not being able to get in there and be physical with them when I am pregnant.”
One thing for sure she can’t do this time around is accompany her team on the bus when they head to out of town destinations. To ensure she can leave if something unexpected comes up, Wunk drives herself and follows the bus, while the JV coach Kelsey Overbeck or a parent volunteer rides the bus with the team.
“Not being able to ride the bus kind of stinks, too,” she said. “That is really a fun experience for me to be able to see the girls outside of their element on the field and seeing them laid back.”
Wunk said because of her physical condition, parents have been helpful this year to take care of the little details.
“I’m really grateful for the parents coming forward and volunteering to help with some of the logistics of this position such as parent emails, bus rides, stats, game film, etc.,” she said. “They help alleviate a great deal of the stressors and busywork that come with coaching and they’re a big part of why I am able to stick with it this far along in my pregnancy.”
Despite all the caution and coaching this far into her pregnancy, Wunk said there is one thought she tries to keep out of her mind and that is the possibility of going into labor on the sidelines during a game.
“I try to put it out of my mind as much as possible,” she said. “That could very well be a possibility as we get further into the season. It is a possibility. It is in the back of my mind as far as having a back-up all the time. Most of our games overlap with JV so our JV coach is prepared to step in and take over.”
While the issues of coaching while pregnant can be obvious, Wunk said there are positives in being pregnant and coaching.
“It forces me to keep my composure and keep my patience level squared away,” she said. “Heartrate, blood pressure down, so even in close games I have to force myself to take a breather, so that works in our favor. It makes me take a step back and compose myself before I move forward so I don’t get too worked up in a situation.”
When she found out she was pregnant and knew that she would be very pregnant and most likely giving birth during the season, she talked to Fort Mill Athletics Director Dwayne Hartsoe about the situation.
“I was more than willing to step down as head coach and still be an assistant if we were able to find somebody,” she said.
“Fortunately they weren’t able to find someone, so I just stepped up and said I was going to do my absolute best I can and hope for the best. I one hundred percent still wanted to do it. Some of these girls I have been with since they were playing in the eighth grade. I didn’t want to just hand it over to someone brand new. I am glad, but definitely as the season rolls on we are getting down to the wire.”
Wunk said that seeing how far along she is, the team is always careful around her.
“The girls are really sweet when we are doing drills,” she said. “They are very aware of where I am on the field so I don’t get hit. Girls will stand in front of me so if there is a loose ball somewhere I won’t be the one getting hit. They will actually pick the ball up and run it over to me instead of chucking it at me like they used to do. For high school girls I am actually surprised at how aware they are of my situation.”
A former player herself, Wunk said she wasn’t concerned with her on safety while roaming the sidelines during games.
“It has never been a concern of mine,” she said. “I have been involved with the sport since I was a young girl. I am very much aware. Knowing that I am pregnant I am more alert of where I am standing and what is going on around me.”
She also added that she consulted with her doctor about her coaching and was told there was no concern as long as certain criteria were in place.
“I have always been physically active whether pregnant or not,” she said. “So they said as long as you can keep your blood pressure and heart rate composed it is just a matter of having backups ready in case any thing happens.”
Speaking of backups, Wunk is scheduled to deliver around playoffs, but she still plans on being there for her team. Playoffs start the week of April 16.
“So with babies’ things don’t mostly go by plan, but ideally, the plan would be to have baby the last week of the season or first week of playoffs,” she said.
“I told these girls they have no other choice but to get through the first two playoff games that way we can get our way to the second week. So when we get to the semifinals and states I am there one way or another, so if baby isn’t here yet I am there or if baby is here I am there with baby and having grandma watch baby so I can be on the sidelines. Either way I am there for them. I am there 100 percent no matter what.”
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @MacBanksFM