Seabreeze volleyball coach Tarisa Craig-Craggy’s mood changed at practice, when her sister came through the gym door, carrying 11-month-old Keegan, who had just come in from a swimming lesson.
Last season was unlike any other in Craig-Craggy’s 10-coaching career; she gave birth to Keegan a few weeks before the season began.
Craig-Craggy and I discussed some of the best and challenging moments she has endured since becoming a first-time mother.
Me: What were some of the biggest challenges of having a newborn?
Craig-Craggy: I had to figure out how to balance having him at home and then coming here and having the energy to coach 24 girls, especially when you’re up every couple of hours feeding. Once I figured out how to manage it, I got used to it, and I’m still not as energetic as I used to be, but it’s worth it. These girls make it easy.
Me: Is Keegan the new little brother of 24 sisters?
Craig-Craggy: Oh yes. They love him, and their parents love him. When I bring him to games, they all fight over who’s going to get him. ‘I want him. I want him.’ So, I the parents and the girls make it easy for me to keep coaching. I didn’t know if I would be able to continue coaching after having a kid, but it’s who I am; it’s what I do, so I’m going to keep coaching as long as I can.
Me: How often do you hold him while coaching?
Craig-Craggy: Earlier in the summer, I had to bring him to every open gym. My sister’s here from Ohio now, so I don’t have to bring him to practice every day, but, at the beginning I paid one of my softball players and one of my former players to come and play with him in the corner. He cried a lot because he’s in the “I love mom” stage, and I like him here because I like to see him.
Me: So, he’s in the “I love mom” stage, but you’re in the very protective stage right now, correct?
Craig-Craggy: Yes. I’m very lucky my parents retired last year right before I had him, and they came down here (from Ohio) and baby-sat throughout the whole year, and they’re coming down again to watch him throughout the school year. I’m a little nervous putting a newborn in daycare, especially my first kid, so I’m lucky he gets to be with my mom and dad.
Me: How does your husband feel about little Keegan not saying ‘Dada?’
Craig-Craggy: He’s (Mark) OK with it, and he’ll get there. He’s just with me all the time. He just started walking and talking, and I’m the one that’s there.
Me: Has any of your coaching methods changed, since you’ve become a mom?
Craig-Craggy: I think I’ve learned to be more patient. I’ve always been a patient coach, but now I talk to these girls how I would like a coach to talk to Keegan one day, and I catch myself sometimes, when I want to be a little harsh. Also, when I’m here, I try to be all here. Even if I have Keegan, I don’t want to shortchange the girls.
Me: After practice, does he get passed around like a cycle until every girl gets to love on him?
Craig-Craggy: I think some of the girls are scared of babies, but a lot of them will come over to see him. My outside hitter (Vail Linn) gave me a Seabreeze volleyball onesie that her mom had made for him, and they already told me I can expect a new one this year, so they take to him.
Me: How does that make you feel, knowing how much they care for him?
Craig-Craggy: Amazing! These girls are just an extension of my family. I’m with them so much, and I love it that they love him and are willing to help me. I now have unlimited babysitters, whenever I need to go out. When my husband and I need a night on the town, I call one of these girls up, and they’ll come.
Me: Give me a funny story from one of the babysitting moments.
Craig-Craggy: I can’t use my girls during volleyball season, so Taylor Lee (softball catcher) was my babysitter at the beginning of the year, and one day I came to the gym and there she was lying on the ground, the baby on top of her, surrounded by all these people that I don’t know. I did not know what was going on. But, now that he’s walking, I assume the stories are going to get better.
Me: Has he vomited in your mouth yet?
Craig-Craggy: Oh no, thank God! But, I have been peed on numerous times. That’s the extent of it, so far. You gotta be quick with the diapers.
Me: So, what’s been the greatest joy of having a kid?
Craig-Craggy: Waking up with a purpose, not that I didn’t have a purpose before, but now I’m living my life for him. I love to wake up every day and watch him grow. Every day is different; I love to live with the unexpected, and that’s how it is with him.
Me: What was your first surreal moment, when you thought to yourself, “Wow, I’m a mom?”
Craig-Craggy: When we walked out of the hospital, and we had to put him in the car seat for the first time, my husband wouldn’t go over 30 miles per hour. We were like, “We got a 6-pound thing in the backseat. It was surreal because the hospital pretty much takes care of him while you’re there, and they’re just giving you this baby and saying “Go,” and neither of us had any kids, so we didn’t know what to do.
Me: What’s been the biggest problem with a baby?
Craig-Craggy: When I had him, I only took 10 days off at the beginning of the season without missing any games, and I came right back. He’s been a really good baby. But, there have been times when I was so tired; I’ve learned that coffee is my best friend.
Me: Are you the emotional parent, who cries about every new thing he does?
Craig-Craggy: I’m not much of a crier, but I do tear up more, when I see certain things. When I first saw him float in the pool, and the first time he did his long walk, I did tear up. Now, I am a little more emotional sometimes, like when I see a commercial about a mom and a kid and when he hits his milestones. Maybe I am a softy.