May 29, 2023 -LOS ANGELES (AP) — Pro soccer player Jess McDonald was traded across six teams in her first five years as a single parent, making it difficult to find, let alone afford, child care in new cities. She and her then-8-month-old son were often forced to share a hotel room with a teammate — and sometimes she had no choice but to bring him with her to practice.
“If I’d have a bad game, you know, my kid would be blamed for it at times, and it was just like, ‘Oh, was your kid up late at night?’” the U.S. Women’s National Team player said in a recent interview.
Arizona State basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne had three children without taking maternity leave. And New York Liberty head coach and former WNBA player Sandy Brondello — acknowledging the difficulties that she would face if she got pregnant — waited to have kids until she retired as a player at age 38.
Juggling the demands of parenthood with those of a professional sports career is just one of myriad challenges female athletes face in an industry that also has been rife with pay disparities, harassment and bullying in the 27 years since the WNBA, the first women’s professional sports league, was formed.