Monday, February 20, 2012
VCU's Beth Cunningham loving motherhood
She favors Dad. But father Dan Cunningham confesses Margaret Jane Cunningham has her mother's laid-back disposition.
Margaret Jane was born Aug. 24. If you've been to a VCU game this season, you probably saw Margaret and her dad sitting behind the Rams bench. Margaret is an active spectator, who barely stirs despite sitting adjacent to the blaring college band.
"She's great!" beams VCU coach Beth Cunningham, cradling her daughter outside the team locker room post game. Typical mom - Beth's first question for Dan is, "Has she eaten?"
"Just fed," Dan assures.
Being a head basketball coach can be consuming, exhausting and drain you of every last ounce. Add a newborn to the mix and the first question has to be, "How do you make it all work?" Beth has made it look easy (OK, almost easy), Dan says.
Growing up in Bloomington, Ind., Beth says coming from a big family helped her adjust to motherhood. "There were five of us, and I had a lot of younger siblings," Beth said. "I was used to helping take care of my younger brothers. Obviously, there's a big difference with your own. But I had that comfort level with kids."
Margaret has cooperated well.
"She's made it as easy as she can make it," Beth says. "She's such a good baby. She's sleeping through the night. She's structured and really true to her schedule, and that's helped -- knowing from day to day what to expect."
What road trip has been hard?
"They're all hard," Beth says. "Anytime she doesn't come, it's hard."
Not that Margaret misses many Rams games. Baby's first Christmas was in Miami (VCU played Morgan State and Miami) and Margaret went to George Mason. Beth's mom, who used to plan her visits around VCU home games, will often travel east for road games instead to relieve Dan.
The Rams love her and aren't reluctant to scoop her off Beth or Dan's laps -- unless.....
"Diaper change, crying -- then they give her back," Dan jokes.
Former Ram Quanitra Hollingsworth visited Beth in the hospital when Margaret was born, and Q's mother cooed over Margaret at Sunday's ODU/VCU game in Norfolk. The players also nicknamed Margaret "MJ" before she left the hospital. At this point, Beth isn't speculating on where MJ might go to college: Notre Dame (Dan and Beth's alma mater) or VCU.
Smiling, Beth says, "We'll leave that up to her."