Most people understand the concept of a “take your kid to work day.” If you have not experienced one for yourself, you probably at least have a semblance of an idea about what it is. Parents who work as professional athletes, however, do not always get to share in this experience. These parents are forced by the nature of their jobs to raise their children in a unique way. When faced with the possibility of a bubble season, many parents feared what that might mean for their children. Fortunately, many leagues, specifically the WNBA were prepared to make concessions that would result in an epic version of “take your kid to work day.”
When a location was selected for the WNBA’s basketball season, the Players Association quickly met to create mandates and new precedents for parenting athletes. As teams descended on IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., players and staff alike packed for what they hoped would be a long season and postseason. For some players, however, they were not simply packing for themselves. They packed for their children as well.
Three players have brought their children with them to the “Wubble.” The Las Vegas Aces’ Dearica Hamby brought her daughter, Amaya. Bria Holmes’ daughter, Diona accompanied her mother along with the rest of the players on the Connecticut Sun, and the Phoenix Mercury have been accompanied by Bryson, Bria Hartley’s son. All three of these children have been courtside with their mothers while they practice, perform recovery, and go about every other aspect of a normal professional athlete’s life.
Quickly, the three teams’ social media accounts were busy showing how teams incorporated and included the little ones in their daily activities. From ice baths to film review, practice to games, the kids got a front-row seat to their moms’ jobs. They got to interact with their mother’s teammates and bring a sense of whimsy and silliness to an otherwise serious time. All three of the teams have posted videos wherein teammates use the youngsters to play a prank on the team or staff member. It results in laughs all around.
For parents, the opportunity to bring their kids into the bubble was a blessing. Many have said they feared what would have happened to their relationship if they had needed to be away from their toddlers for so long. Parents of older children have said that the safety and security of the bubble eased stress surrounding exposure to COVID while also letting their kids experience life as normally as possible on the campus of IMG Academy.
With the elimination of the Connecticut Sun on September 29, the Aces’ Dearica Hamby is the last mother standing in the “Wubble,” which means that her daughter is one of the few children left. While Hamby has shared that parenting in the bubble has not been easy, she has also stated that she is thankful for the opportunity to have her daughter with her. While Amaya does not have access to the same things she did at home, this is a once in a lifetime experience for them both.
While the WNBA is not the only professional sports organization making concessions for their athletes to parent during the playoffs, they are far and away the most vocal about it. The National Women’s Soccer League has reported that a fraction of their parenting athletes have decided to bring their children along with them. Alternatively, the NBA has allowed family members as guests but their interaction with children is not the same as the interaction between the mothers and children of the WNBA. Most often they see one another in private spaces in an attempt to mitigate any potential for transfer of the virus. Children of Major League Baseball players will not see their fathers until they are eliminated or until they win their championships.
Being the child of a professional athlete comes with some pretty awesome perks. For children of athletes competing for a championship, the opportunity to be at their side is something they will remember for the rest of their lives. In a bubble atmosphere, they have the opportunity to bond with their mothers’ teammates, coaches, and even league staff. Sharing this moment with their children in such an intimate manner is a chance pro-athlete parents might never get to have again. As the Aces gear up to compete for the 2020 WNBA championship, Hamby will put her 6th Woman of the Year award to the test, hand-in-hand with her daughter.