Head Coach, University of Arizona
By Tara Kirkpatrick
Even before stepping on the court in the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship game, Adia Barnes had already won the Final Four weekend.
UArizona’s fiercely authentic, engaging women’s basketball coach was heralded for her honesty about being up early changing diapers, pumping breast milk for her baby daughter at halftime and doing all the necessary things moms do while under the most intense spotlight of her career. “I think you just figure it out,” said Barnes, a Pac-10 Player of the Year while playing at Arizona and a WNBA champion. “That’s what women have always done. You just figure it out and you do the best you can. I am blessed to be a mom.”
Barnes, now in her sixth year as head coach, has made history at UArizona and brought the region back to elite sports status after coaching her unstoppable team to its first-ever Final Four win over traditional power Connecticut against everyone’s odds. After ESPN’s Holly Rowe publicly lauded Barnes’ perseverance as a mom and coach, the world has taken notice. The ensuing media attention has included an NBC special featuring Barnes as one of three trailblazing women in sports today and a Mother’s Day segment on ESPN2. “Women need to stop being an afterthought and start being celebrated and supported,” she said.
Looking ahead, Barnes is committed to building a national championship program here and just landed a five-year, $5.85 million new contract. “I think a lot of people counted us out and thought we got lucky,” she said. “I am in pursuit of getting us back there. Now, we are hungry.”
Her “Leave a Legacy” message has definitely taken root with her players. “You’ve got to love the process. The process is good. Sometimes there is adversity, but you grow in uncomfortable times,” she said.
“I am incredibly proud of the job Adia has done building Arizona women’s basketball into a household name in college basketball,” said UArizona Athletic Director Dave Heeke. “The team’s run to the national championship game of the NCAA Tournament was a memorable and powerful display of what the Wildcat Way stands for and can achieve.”
“We are thrilled that she will be with us for years to come, and we have no doubt that the young women in her program will continue to proudly represent our university, the athletics department and the community,” Heeke said. “Adia’s leadership, enthusiasm and compassion as a coach, mentor and a Wildcat is unrivaled.”