NEW YORK, NY – May 12, 2018 – For this Mother’s Day, we talked with three special New York Liberty moms — current guard Bria Hartley, and alumnae Swin Cash and Kym Hampton — about balancing motherhood and basketball life. Each world-class athlete spoke candidly about their parenting styles, embracing the imperfections of motherhood, and the best mothering advice they’ve received and would share with others.
Here’s what each mom shared.
New York Liberty (NYL): Describe your mommy style in one word.
Bria Hartley (BH): Protective. I’m with him wherever he goes. When someone else is holding him I’m always looking to see what they’re doing. When I was in Turkey during the WNBA offseason, he was a fan favorite. It got to the point where everyone wanted to hold him or play with him, but I wanted to protect him from all of the attention.
NYL: When you learned you were pregnant, did you consider sacrificing your career to become a mom, or did you immediately decide to accept the challenge of doing both?
BH: I immediately knew I was going to do both and figure it out. When I found out I was pregnant, I was playing for the Washington Mystics so Tayler Hill and Tianna Hawkins were examples of moms doing both. Watching them let me know it was possible. I don’t have everything all figured out. I just try to do the best I can everyday and Bryson seems happy so that’s what matters most.
NYL: Last year was your first season adjusting to life as a mother and pro basketball player. How do you anticipate this season being different?
BH: My support system is more organized so that will make things easier. The hardest part is going to be flying to road games with Bryson because he’s more active now. He wants to run around everywhere and he can’t. Teaching him that he can’t touch everything or go everywhere will make things slightly more difficult.
NYL: Has becoming a mom influenced how you approach the game?
BH: I think it’s helped me so much. Since returning from giving birth everyone sees that my game has been elevated. I’m motivated to do well for him. When you’re a woman in sports, a lot of people say you can’t have a child and play basketball. It’s not many moms playing in the WNBA, or that many female athletes that have kids before their careers peak. I work hard to prove everyone wrong. You can do both. I’m not saying it’s easy. But it’s not impossible like a lot of people try to paint it out to be.
NYL: What do you hope Bryson learns watching you as a working mom and being exposed to women’s basketball at such a young age?
BH: You can already tell he loves basketball. He’s always running after a basketball and trying to throw it. I think he’s definitely going to love the sport. Also, I think his firsthand perspective of watching women’s basketball will give him a lot of respect for our game as well. I think it’s going to be great for him to be around it.
NYL: What’s one piece of motherly advice you received and would like to share with other moms?
BH: It’s ok if you don’t have everything figured out. You’ll learn as you go. Certain things you’ll pickup on and you can get it done if you put your mind to it. Don’t worry too much.
New York Liberty (NYL): Use one word to describe your mommy style.
Swin Cash (SC): Patient. I am super aggressive and competitive by nature. I’m also a matter of fact person at times. I’m learning that everything is all new to Saint so having patience and allowing him to explore allows me to have my emotional time. Whether it’s high or low, it always gets me in a better place. Having patience to start with every situation allows me to exhale and move on to the next thing.
NYL: Since retiring from basketball in 2016, your career hasn’t slowed down at all. In addition to being Saint’s mother, you’re director of franchise development for the NY Liberty, a co-host on CBS’s We Need to Talk, a basketball analyst and also a public speaker. How do you juggle it all?
SC: I live by work, life balance. Work is something we have to do to provide, to live, to sustain ourselves and family; and I understand work can be a number of things. Work can be my many jobs. Work can be providing for and making sure I’m support for my husband. Work can be making sure I’m being someone who’s the best mom or daughter. So, I look at everything that’s work as something that you have to do every day. I believe work must have balance within all of those things. In life, being able to live and explore. My husband and I love to travel. We met and we were always passing through the night, and it kept our relationship exciting. It allowed us to maintain our individuality. Have our independence. But at the same time we supported each other wholeheartedly. Now that we have our son, we’ve changed our schedules around to be able to be the best support system we can be for each other while we both pursue our careers.
NYL: How do you factor in self-care?
SC: That’s a constant work in progress because by nature I love to make other people happy. I’m a giver and people wouldn’t think that somebody that’s so goal oriented or aspires to do more or take on all of these jobs would be like that, but I really do a lot of different things because I want to make the world better. Self-care for me is making time for the little things like going to get my hair or nails done. I would take Saint everywhere if I could and I had to realize and trust that Saint needs Daddy time and Mommy needs me time. I had to realize I had to keep doing those small things by myself that lets you exhale from the world but also keeps you socially engaged. Also, a lot of prayer. When Saint’s either sleeping or I have time by myself in the car driving somewhere, I turn off the radio, and just have silence. I learned to steal moments from different areas so that’s been every helpful.
NYL: What do you hope Saint gains from being around women’s basketball at such a young age?
SC: It’s important for me to expose Saint to not only basketball, but women’s basketball, to my job, and making sure that he’s balanced. I can’t say that I believe in things like equality and diversity and not be willing to instill it in him at a young age. A lot of young boys and girls grow up in equal and fair environments. It’s not until we institutionalize them into believing that boys or men are more superior do they exhibit that type of behavior. I believe in teaching and showing them positive examples and images while they’re young so that becomes their norm.
NYL: What’s the best piece of mom advice you’ve received and would pass on to others?
SC: Listen to everyone. Everyone has their opinion. Everyone has knowledge, they’ve all gone through it. Apply what you feel is best for you because at the end of the day, you have to live with those decisions as a mom. People will tell you how to sleep train your kid, how to feed him, when to feed him, how to dress him. I love knowledge. I can be a sponge, but at the end of the day, it’s like my grandmother used to say, ‘take in the meat, spit out the bone.’ That’s the advice I would give any new mom.
New York Liberty (NYL): Describe your mommy style in one word.
Kym Hampton (KH): Old-school in the sense of setting boundaries for my daughter so she’s aware that hard work pays off and you still have to earn some things.
NYL: Is your daughter aware of your career? Sometimes, if children aren’t old enough to experience their parent’s pro career, they don’t respect what they brought to the game.
KH: She knows. I had my daughter three years after I retired from the WNBA at age 41. She attended her first Liberty game as an infant, went to camps, and has watched some of my games on YouTube, so she definitely respects my game and understands what I was capable of when I played.
NYL: I’m sure equipping your teenage daughter with life skills is challenging on its own, and factoring in basketball lessons takes it to another level. How much basketball advice do you offer your daughter without becoming too overbearing?
KH: It’s a thin line. I don’t coach her. We learned very early on that I would probably ruin her love for basketball and our relationship would suffer if I became too involved in her basketball development. I had to let someone else do it. Occasionally, she’ll listen to me because I learned to lead with a compliment – “You’re really playing great, you’re hustling, but you might want to think about tweaking this,” for example.
NYL: So your conscious of not putting too much pressure on your daughter…
KH: Having played the game, I know what it feels like to have someone yelling at you all the time. I’m conscious of not doing the things that used to irk me. It’s tough. As parents, even as coaches, you have a tendency to coach the way you were coached or the coaching style that most influenced you, unless you work on changing to do something different. It’s been a process.
NYL: What’s the best piece of mom advice you’ve received and would pass on to other moms?
KH: Practice honesty and patience. When I was younger, parents didn’t allow children to question adult actions that might’ve contradicted what they were teaching their children. But, it’s important to teach children the whys behind some of the lessons we instill in them, and have trust and patience in their ability to understand you’re only looking out for their best interests.
The Liberty season officially tips off on Sunday, May 20, as New York faces the Chicago Sky at Wintrust Arena at 7 p.m. (ET). For the 2018 home opener at Westchester County Center, the Liberty welcome the defending champion Minnesota Lynx on Friday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m.