Sara Robson knew life was going to change. She just wasn’t sure how much.
When the Austin Peay State University head women’s golf coach gave birth to her first child, Kaitlyn Hope (or Boomer, as she’s was nicknamed by the Lady Govs golfers during Robson's pregnancy after listening to an ultrasound), last summer, she knew that things would be different in her professional and personal life. But nine months into motherhood, Robson is enjoying the balance of being a mom and a Division I golf coach.
“I wasn’t naïve enough to think my work life wouldn’t change,” Robson said. “I anticipated some of that change. To juggle all my time and still do the things I need to do with the team and with Katie would be challenging, but it’s been great.”
Having Chelsea Harris around last fall as interim coach and assistant coach helped that transition. The former Lady Govs golf star, who left the program over the winter to take a position with the LPGA, was able to direct the program while Robson was on maternity leave.
“Having some help in general makes life easier,” Robson said. “She was awesome for our program, both as a player and then as a coach, and she is someone our players really respect. To have her running things while I was away was a huge help. This semester has been a little bit more stressful without her, but I think that would be the case with or without a baby. Having two coaches – two sets of eyes at tournaments and practices, two people to share the load – can make a ton of difference.”
“Chelsea helped a lot,” said junior Rachel Deaton. “It’s been tougher without her, but as a team we’ve banded together to make sure we have what we need.”
Upon her return, Robson has transitioned into a life balancing Katie and her players, a balance that’s mixed well so far.
“Sometimes Katie has to come to practice with me, and the girls understand that,” Robson said. “Our practices, especially now, end around 6:30 or 7 o’clock in the evening, and babysitters don’t work that late. I go get her at the last possible moment and she hangs out at practice. I’ve been blessed, so far, with an easy child so having her around for the last half hour of practice hasn’t been a problem. And after practice, the girls love to play with her. They’ve taken to that and done well with it.”
With Katie around the program, Robson has had to adjust her recruiting practices as well. She says it’s been beneficial to show the family-oriented side to the program.
“Starting with last summer (when Robson was put on bedrest in the late stages of her pregnancy), recruits and their parents have been awesome,” Robson said. “I think parents like seeing the mom that comes out when they come around for visits. Katie was a big part of visits last fall, because I was still on maternity leave and she would be with me. You’d be surprised how many dads ‘ooh and ahh’ over babies.
“Recruiting now, the schedule has been almost perfect. Katie goes to bed around 8:30, so I can recruit before I leave work or after she goes to bed and still spend time with her. Some parents and kids will email and ask ‘What’s a good time to call tonight?’ and I’ll do the same for them. It’s cut my calls down a lot because I know when I’ll be able to catch players.”
With the demands of motherhood on her time now, Robson has made sure her players know they aren’t getting lost in the shuffle.
“The girls have been awesome,” Robson said. “They understand that if they need me I will be there. I’ve always told them that if they need me, call me. That hasn’t changed and it will never change.”
“I think everybody’s adjusted really well,” Deaton said. “Coach has done a great job balancing everything and still being there for us; I know it’s been tougher on her.”
Making sure she’s still the same coach has been important. As the season winds to a close, life has gotten more hectic than usual, and she’s relied more on her husband, Eric, and various family members to help lighten her load.
She’s been mindful of being able to spend that time with her family as well. With a hectic schedule, Robson makes sure she enjoys time with her husband and daughter while still fulfilling her role as coach.
“One of the biggest things I’ve made sure to do is devote time to my family and have that time with Katie and Eric at night,” Robson said. “I have to turn that coaching brain off for a bit, because it never really stops. My husband has always been supportive of myself and the team, and having that support at home is very important.”
Robson and the Lady Govs will compete in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, beginning Sunday at Greystone Golf Club in Dickson, Tenn.