Arizona Women's Basketball

Adia Barnes on ESPN feature: To be working mom, you kick down door of adversity

Adia Barnes was featured Sunday morning on ESPN with Serena Williams, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Candace Parker about their lives as working moms in a Mother’s Day special.

The video included Barnes talking about her breast feeding of daughter Capri during halftime of the NCAA championship game against Stanford on April 4, the ultimate display of being a mom while at work.

A mishap occurred while Barnes gave her halftime speech, and her feeding from the pump was exposed. Although she and the team had some laughs, it was natural. It also showed the lengths Barnes would go for her daughter and her team. No halftime speech could match that value.

“I remember sitting there thinking…’Oh, God’… but then everybody started laughing so I was like, ‘Oh I’m glad I made you guys laugh,'” Barnes told ESPN’s Tory Z. Roy. “Because it was a stressful moment, this is a national championship game, the biggest moments of our life. I’m thinking to myself, ‘Gosh, guys do not have to go through this.’

“I had a lot of those moments during the Final Four. Moments when I’ve questioned my ability as a mom, as a good coach.”

Nobody else questioned her ability.

Barnes’ self-evaluating is because she always wants her best version impacting her team, and her team certainly involves her family.

Her husband Salvo Coppa is an invaluable member of her staff as strategist and recruiter. Her vivacious son Matteo is everywhere, including with her during the weekly Zoom press conferences in which he routinely made a welcomed appearance. Minutes after Arizona beat Indiana to make it to the Final Four in San Antonio, Barnes held Capri (born in September, right before the season) on the court and kissed her cheek.

Arizona lost the championship to Stanford 54-53 after Aari McDonald’s valiant last-second shot bounced off the back of the rim at the buzzer.

But Arizona’s magical run through the NCAA tournament and the impact Barnes had on working moms and aspiring African-American female coaches is a constant win.

“To be a working mom means you’re going to face adversity all the time,” Barnes said during ESPN’s video. “You can’t be afraid of what’s ahead of you, you just go for it. You kick down the door. You don’t knock on it, you kick it down.”

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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