Originally created 12/22/99

Coach continues despite pregnancy



The due date for Jodie Price's baby daughter is Jan. 18, 2000. Or as the Augusta Christian girls basketball coach checks her calendar, "the Alleluia game."

Price, 29, is trying not to let a little thing like pregnancy slow her routine as sideline teacher, even if she's added 40 pounds to her slight frame.

At eight months, one week carrying her first child, Price seems to have found the complement to balancing duties to her immediate and extended families. Coach as much as she can, worry about motherhood when it comes.

With coaching, she's avoided thoughts of morning sickness, fatigue, Lamaze classes, of all the holiday stress.

"She's amazing," said Steve Price, Augusta Christian's football coach and expectant papa-to-be. "She hasn't been sick at all. She's had no complications. We just went Christmas shopping from 12 to 6, and she was on her feet all day. I now know how strong a lady she is."

Still, it's not as easy to pace the sidelines with the same fervor. Running practices usually means grabbing a chair to sit down.

"I plan to coach until I have the baby," said Jodie, who went straight from coaching cross country to basketball. "There are days when I feel more tired than usual, but that's about it."

Not that this is all novel. Jodie has an older sister coaching high school sports in Oklahoma who has delivered three kids through basketball season.

"The plan all along has been to have her coach all the way through until it was time," Steve Price said. "You never want to tell Jodie what she can't do. She's set in her mind to keep coaching because that's what she loves."

So far, so good. No need to excuse herself at halftime. No need to call for backup coaches to pitch in.

Alicia Browning Price has stirred no trouble. Yet.

"If she cooperates and comes when she's supposed to, I'll miss just one game," Price said. "My hope is that she'll come early and I won't have to miss it. Or she'll come late, like after the region tournament."

But if Alicia Price decides that her time to enter the world comes midway through the third quarter of a region game in say, Sandersville, well, then Jodie's got a plan for that.

"Babies never follow plans now, do they?" Steve Price said. "All I know is that I'm going to get a little more responsibility, but I don't mind."

Stephanie Bailey, who aides Price with the junior varsity and serves as her team's bookkeeper, also handles the "look." With each game so far this season, Price has brought an overnight bag, just in case.

"Me and Stephanie, we've got the look," Price said. "When it's time, I'll give her the look and we'll just go from there."

When Alicia comes next January, Price plans to slow her teaching while continuing to coach.

"This is my team, my girls, and I don't feel right if I'm not there," said Price, who missed a cross country practice for a doctor's appointment, her only excused coaching absence so far.

The team responded by throwing Price a baby shower, by rubbing her belly before games and by starting a birth countdown.

Still, there have been some humorous moments, like the November game at Ben Lippen. Jodie arrived seven months in, her stomach protruding in a sphere-shape.

"They seemed worried that I was going to have it right then and there," Price said. "They didn't want me to stress out too much."

Then there's dealing with referees.

"I asked them `Does the coach's box end at my feet or at my belly?"' Price said. "They seem to enjoy that, and they tell me to get out of the way they don't want to run into me."

Reach Rick Dorsey at (706) 823-3219.