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Why moms love that Arizona's basketball coach pumped breast milk at game

Adia Barnes is the only head coach of a top-25 team with a baby under the age of two.
/ Source: TODAY

Adia Barnes, head coach of the University of Arizona Wildcats women's basketball team, got her players pumped up at halftime during Sunday's NCAA National Championship game against Stanford. And she did it while pumping breast milk for her 6-month-old daughter, Capri.

ESPN reporter Holly Rowe was so impressed that she shared the tidbit with her viewers.

“For those of you who think this is too much information, let’s normalize working mothers and all that they have to do to make it all happen,” Rowe declared during a broadcast on Sunday. The Wildcats came up short, losing the championship game in a 54-53 finish.

Barnes, who shares Capri and 5-year-old son, Matteo, with her husband, Salvatore Coppa, was counting down the seconds until halftime. One breast was engorged and had begun to leak.

“As soon as we got to the locker room I started pumping. It felt amazing,” Barnes, 44, told TODAY Parents. “I had a blanket over my chest but then the blanket fell off and everybody started laughing.”

Shortly after Barnes headed back onto the court, her boss, Suzy Mason, fed Capri the bottle, which had been warmed by one of the team's heating pads.

“Women look after women,” Barnes explained.

Adia Barnes and her daughter, Capri.Courtesy Adia Barnes

According to Barnes, she is the only head coach of a top-25 team with a baby under the age of two.

“It’s hard. You wonder, is it possible? ” Barnes explained. “I’ve had my moments of breaking down and being like, ‘I just can’t do this. It's too much. But this is what I'm meant to do."

Barnes recalled the night before Arizona played the University of Connecticut, a team she calls “a powerhouse.”

“Capri woke up at like, 4 in the morning, so I fed her and then she spit up all over me. A second later, she pooped on my lap, so I had to give her at bath. At this point, it’s 5 a.m. and I’m getting ready to coach my biggest game,” Barnes revealed.

After the game, which Arizona won, Barnes, a former professional basketball player, told reporters she wants to inspire other women.

“You can be a coach. You can do it at an elite level,” she shared. “You just have to have a village like I do.”

Adia Barnes posed with her husband, Salvatore Coppa, and their children, Capri and Matteo.Mike Christy / Arizona Athletics

Barnes said she has been inundated with messages and phone calls since the press conference.

“I’ve heard from so many women,” Barnes told TODAY. “I must have heard from 100 women who said they got out of coaching because it was too hard. That breaks my heart.”

Earlier this month, Barnes and Dawn Staley, head coach at University of South Carolina, made history as the first Black head coaches in the women's Final Four.