I was twenty weeks pregnant with my first child. At 26 years old, on top of the stressful, anxiety-ridden experience of pregnancy, I decided to apply for a new position: the head coaching job at University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC). It was clear that after six years of assistant coaching, I was prepared and ready to take on the new roll of head coach. In addition, being a head coach for a Division I university was, once, my dream.
My husband and family encouraged me to apply, go through the process, and do everything possible to get the offer. However, at the same time, I was battling demons no one was able to understand. Prior to conception, I went off anti-depressants for the first time since recovering from my eating disorder to protect the eventual baby from unknown side effects. Once pregnant, I had feelings and emotions I had never experienced, not even during my eating disorder.
I was severely depressed, uncomfortably anxious, and uneasy. I was literally jumping out of my skin 24-hours a day. I remember just sobbing, all day long. There were days I shut my office door at work pretending I was on a phone call to just cry.
I had only been married for a year and a half. My mom kept warning that my husband may not be able to deal with these behaviors, and for the sake of a healthy, new marriage, I needed to get it together. But I couldn’t. I missed home. I missed my parents. I was beginning to not enjoy my job, soccer, or coaching–the things that once provided me pure happiness and joy; the things my husband knew me for loving, and dedicating my life. So, for the sake of preventing more controversy and uproar, I went for the job at UMBC. But, I couldn’t admit to anyone that it wasn’t what I wanted. I could barely admit it to myself.
Before my first on-campus interview, I remember sitting in the parking lot crying my eyes out. Water was just leaking from my eyes uncontrollably. I didn’t even know why I was crying, I was just crying, and couldn’t stop. Somehow, I wiped my face clean, put on a game face, and entered the athletic building. I gave it my best because I didn’t know how to do it any other way. I was offered a second on-campus interview. Somehow.
At the same time, my husband and I were looking for a new home to move once the baby was born. We were upgrading from a townhouse to a family home, while my husband had, also, just purchased a dental practice. We were in debt, a lot of debt. He continued to make me aware that the coaching job would help our family financially, and relieve some pressure from him. But, I didn’t want it. How was I supposed to tell him that, and explain it?
I interviewed for the second time. Again, subconsciously hoping the position was offered to someone else so I wasn’t put in such a predicament, it clearly had gone well. Two months after the first interview, and at 33 weeks pregnant, I received a phone call from the athletic director asking me if I would be able to come on campus again, for one last time.
I entered his office. My heart was racing, my mind was exhausted, and I was terrified of the inevitable. My, once, dream job was offered to me. A time I should have been ecstatic, celebratory, and excited, I was distraught, confused, and felt ready to explode. I remember looking at him, as he expected me to accept it on the spot, thanked him for the opportunity and offer, and requested I go home and discuss it in detail with my husband. He looked more confused than I did. It had been a long, three-month process. What could I possibly still need to discuss?
I got in my car. I cried. I sobbed. I called my mom. I didn’t know what to do, and was desperate for any guidance. This offer was my dad’s dream, too. He only ever wished I would lead a collegiate team. My soccer life was his, as well. He advised me to take it. That, hopefully, once the baby was born I would be more stable, and ready to embrace the role; that I would regret not taking it. My mom sympathized for me, but, similar to me, she couldn’t pull the trigger to tell me not to accept. My husband–he met me when I was a coach, knew my goals and aspirations when it came to coaching, and couldn’t envision my life without it–and, he could’ve used the financial support.
I called a psychologist, who I had been seeing for a short period of time during the pregnancy, for an emergency appointment. I had two days to make my final decision, and give them an answer. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. With his support and reassurance, for the first time in my entire life, I went against my family’s wishes, and what I was supposed to do. I declined.
I knew I was in no state of mind to accept the head coaching position at the time. I wasn’t healthy, happy, or in a condition to lead other people, guide college players, and coach a team. It wouldn’t have been fair to them, and it wasn’t fair to me. It would have resulted in one big, enormous mess. And, I felt like I was saving them from it, my family from it, and myself from it.
I disappointed a lot of people by declining the position. I felt like a failure. Why couldn’t I have been in a state of mind to take it? Why couldn’t it have opened up before I got pregnant? I ended up going into preterm labor three weeks later, and four weeks early. To this day, I believe my mind, body, and baby could no longer take the stress.
Four years later, I have no regrets. I believe I did everyone a favor, though, it may be difficult for others to see. My dreams and aspirations have been channeled into raising my children, for now. And, I am able to spend every day and every minute with them. And, for that, I couldn’t be more proud or happy. People often ask, “Will you ever get back into college coaching?” I don’t know the answer to that, as I don’t have the answers to many things in my life. I never, in my wildest dreams, anticipated writing and public speaking my on eating disorder as a collegiate athlete. But, I am. The passion I have for this is unexplainable, and I hope that whatever I choose to do, I continue feeling this same passion.