Five daughters in five months for Virginia coaches

T.R. Foley

11/13/2009
T.R. Foley, InterMat Senior Writer
foley@intermatwrestle.com, Twitter: @trfoley

A wrestling-centric baby boom has visited Charlottesville, but instead of mixing together scrappy boys and girls, the stork's basket will be filled exclusively with double-X chromosomes and pink-tinted bonnets.

Scott Moore and Steve Garland
The University of Virginia coaching staff will welcome five daughters over the next five months: head coach Steve Garland (November), volunteer assistant Jim Stance (December), Club Coach Jim Harshaw (January), associate head coach Scott Moore (February), and assistant Alex Clemsen (March).

"This is nuts!" said Garland. "It's crazy enough we are all having kids, but all girls? All during the season? I know we're lucky, but it's super weird."

Before taking out the calculator to adjust for the improbability of hiring a staff of soon-to-be fathers -- and the impossibly eerie timing of the pregnancies (November-March) -- know that the odds of five randomly selected couples each ending up with girls is only about 3.5 percent, or one out of every 28 attempts. Super weird, indeed.

For those familiar with U.Va.'s current baby situation it's difficult not to mention a "wrestler's curse" -- a metaphorical shorthand for recognizing that instead of siring men to uphold the masculine tradition of aggression and discipline in wrestling, a seemingly disproportionate number of former wrestlers have daughters. Virginia's current baby boom seems to lend anecdotal credibility to the argument of a curse.

"Every wrestler dreams about having a little guy and getting him into wrestling," Moore said. "When you love the sport, you just want to share it with your son."

Alex Clemsen
While every pregnancy and birth is exciting, the real test of professional and personal balance rest with Moore and Clemsen, who, along with full-time coaching responsibilities, are both expecting their first child (Stanec is also expecting his first, but works part-time as he finishes his Ph.D. in electrical engineering. Harshaw has two boys and recently founded a sports marketing firm.) Moore said that while he was happy to find out his wife was pregnant with a healthy girl; he'd been indulging in the idea of having a boy.

Garland understands the initial disappointment. He wanted a boy when expecting the birth of his first child in 2006. He eventually came to realize how fortunate he was that his wife English gave birth to a baby girl: he was saved from turning into some terrible derivation of an over-protective, screaming wrestling dad.

"It's a tough sport, and I'm pretty fortunate that I can separate my home life from my life on the mat, "Garland said. "I'm having a tea party and baking fake cakes with my daughter one night and then first thing in the morning I'm in the wrestling room leading extra technique sessions and getting my skull beat in," he said. "The home stuff is the best part of my day."

Moore says he wants a similar type of professional and personal harmony.

Steve and English Garland with Sarah
"I've watched him care for his kids and his wrestlers. It's gonna be tough, but Garland's has the kind of balance I want to pull off."

Only four months from the due date the energy of the event is starting to enliven an already-frisky Moore. Not ready to bake fake cakes, he's preparing for his daughter by assembling new furniture, baby proofing the house, and building extra storage cabinets. All the preparation is necessary because Moore and Clemsen are staring down due dates that coincide with the ACC and NCAA tournaments. While his assistants will certainly be focused on peaking their athletes for the end of the year competitions, Garland said nothing would keep them from being at the hospital on delivery day.

"Wrestlers think that making All-American or winning a national championship is the happiest you can ever be. But when you have a kid the whole game changes -- nothing is more important or makes you happier than raising a family," Garland said. "There are plenty of wrestling tournaments."

The Cavalier team seems equally excited and optimistic about the impact five infant girls will have on the organization. Sophomore co-captain Chris Henrich said he expects the coaches to take time to be with their families, but that there will be an enormous upside to watching the staff raise their daughters.

"We're a young team and they're a young staff so I think we relate," Henrich said. "The coaches are a big part of our lives and the team is excited to welcome a new part of the family during the year. They work their butts off to get us ready for the season. That's not going to change because they have a kid … or five."

Scott and Sherry Moore
"The guys have been handling everything well," Garland said. "You can see how much it warms up a room when my one daughter is around. Can you imagine what it's gonna be like with five of 'em?"

While it's difficult to imagine five coaches from same team having five daughters in the same season, the made-for-TV movie script wasn't certain until late last week when Moore and his wife Sherry received the results of her ultra sound. Moore said he was anxious about stepping into the starring role of hero (or heel) -- and apparently for good reason.

"I'm pretty sure Clemsen would've punched me in the face if I was having a boy," Moore said.

While there's humor in watching old competitors or teammates ready for the birth of a daughter -- a communal, good-natured ribbing indicating just how much everyone understands that gender is secondary to health and happiness. With growing families full of baby girls (and thus, no inner-staff fistfights) Virginia wrestling's single-gender baby boom definitely looks more like a pink-bowed blessing than any kind of curse.

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