Adia Barnes

This week on Amplify Voices: Conversations from the Heart, we sat down with Adia Barnes, head coach of the Arizona Wildcats and an incredible mentor and role model for so many women athletes. We talked about what it’s been like taking her team to the NCAA Championship game for the first time, her coaching philosophy, and why she tells her team “love the hard stuff.” Listen here for the full interview.

Your team exudes a sense of family, caring, and connectedness. How did you develop your coaching style and approach with your players to create this atmosphere?

 
“I feel like coaching is like communicating.”
— Adia Barnes
 

The heart, love, and joy that Barnes brings to the court extend into other parts of her life as well as her relationship with her teams. Contrary to many other coaching styles, Adia takes a casual, yet warm approach when leading her teams. She credits this approach to remaining authentic to her true self and letting that guide her in how she interacts with her team.

“Your biggest strength is a lot of times, your biggest weakness. I’m pretty authentic and transparent. I can’t be someone else. I don’t try to be. If I can’t be myself, it’s not the right door for me, right? I’m just myself.”

She goes on, “I just go with how I feel. I’m a pretty consistent person. I’m not super high one day, and one day super low. That’s just not me. I feel that I coach the way I am. Like, I get excited. I don’t get super stressed, because me being stressed for my team, they’re not going to perform better. Like, I didn’t perform better under stress. I was a mess under stress when I played. So, I just try to give coaching points and coach. I feel like when you’re yelling and you’re crazy, you’re not coaching. You’re being emotional because you’re crazy.”

Who has been the biggest influence on your career journey?

 
“One of the people I truly credit is my college coach.”
— Adia Barnes
 

Barnes’s undeniable and successful career can be partly attributed to those who have supported her along the way. Barnes shares her experience with one of her biggest influences and mentors.

“She[my coach] found me in San Diego, a little beach girl. She found me at 17. I was young when I got to college, and she saw something in me that other people didn’t because I was a 5’10” post player that everybody said couldn’t play in the PAC 12.”

She goes on, “I felt a connection with her. I came to school in Arizona, and she continues to play a huge role in my life [today]. Any major life lessons. Let me tell you about when I first got to college. I couldn’t stand her. I was like ‘She’s too hard on me. She’s always picking at me. She makes me run for everything.’ But I understood, at the end of my sophomore year, that the tough love was to make me grow.”

Who has been the biggest influence on your career journey?

Barnes’s undeniable and successful career can be partly attributed to those who have supported her along the way. Barnes shares her experience with one of her biggest influences and mentors.

“She[my coach] found me in San Diego, a little beach girl. She found me at 17. I was young when I got to college, and she saw something in me that other people didn’t because I was a 5’10” post player that everybody said couldn’t play in the PAC 12.”

She goes on, “I felt a connection with her. I came to school in Arizona, and she continues to play a huge role in my life [today]. Any major life lessons. Let me tell you about when I first got to college. I couldn’t stand her. I was like ‘She’s too hard on me. She’s always picking at me. She makes me run for everything.’ But I understood, at the end of my sophomore year, that the tough love was to make me grow.”

When did you know you wanted to be a professional athlete?

 
“When I was 10 years old in fifth grade, I wanted to play basketball.”
— Adia Barnes
 

Barnes credits her competitive and resilient nature as a direct result of her upbringing. She shares her competitiveness is a trait she inherited from her parents and credits it for her desire to join sports teams at an early age.

“I’m competitive. If you would have said ‘Go tackle your mom because you have to,’ I would have tackled my mom[as a child]. I’m so competitive.”

She goes on, “So, my dad was a pro football player many years ago, and I think I got that competitive side from him. My mom is also pretty cutthroat. She’s this Italian woman from Chicago. It’s like you fall, you get back up. She’s pretty tough.”

Pete Carroll 00:00

Well, Coach, what a season, what a year. What has this been like, my goodness is Scott, it’s got to have been had so much to it, share some with us.

Adia Barnes 00:09

So the first thing, just it’s a blur, you know, just to think that it was a COVID year an unprecedented year with so much adversity. And if you would have told me at the beginning of the year, you’re gonna go, you’re gonna go to national championship and lose off a one-shot come within one point I would have said, uhh I don’t know about that. So I would say, are we even gonna play for the national championship but an amazing year with a team that just fought and showed heart and resiliency the entire season?

Pete Carroll 00:37

Yeah, it was obvious it was so obvious. What has come of all of this? What is what’s going on?

Adia Barnes 00:44

Well, I haven’t had a day since the tournament game, which is a good and bad thing. It’s just, I really haven’t came up for air yet. But it’s good stuff. I think that a lot of amazing things for the program for our community for Arizona, women’s basketball, just a lot of recognition and just excitement. So it’s a busy that you can’t complain about. Yeah,

Audrey Cavenecia 01:05

I was telling coach that I was watching videos of you. And I was so moved by how caring and connected and I mean, it’s truly a sense of family with your team. And where did your approach to how to be with your players. I mean, we see so many variations, obviously, for men, in terms of coaching styles, but to have women come up and really watch them and just really kind of take ownership of their own self-expression and coaching was so beautiful to watch. How did you develop that? And where does that come from?

Audrey Cavenecia 01:40

Thank you, I have no idea I did. People ask that. I don’t know. Like, sometimes it’s good and bad. Like your biggest strength, a lot of times your biggest weakness, I’m pretty authentic and transparent. I just, I can’t try to be someone else I don’t try to be because I’m more of a type. If I can’t be myself, like it’s not the right door for me, right. I’m just myself, I wish like the birds came out. I wasn’t that proud about that. But I wasn’t gonna apologize. I was like, this is an intimate moment with my team. So I didn’t carry what anybody thought. But the perception as a mom and a woman wasn’t that great. But um, I just am who I am. And I just go with how I feel. I feel like I’m not a big like, I’m a pretty consistent person. So I’m not like one day super high, one day super low. That’s just not me. So I feel like I just coast the way I am. Like, I get excited I get past I get like, let’s go kill them. But then I’m like, I don’t get super stressed. Because me like, I was being stressed for my team. They’re not gonna perform better like I didn’t perform better in stress, I was a mess under stress when I played. So I try to just be like, give, give coaching points and coach. And I feel like when you’re just yelling, and you’re crazy, you’re not coaching, you’re just being crazy. Because you’re emotional. I feel like coaching is like communicating. They may not like to hear it. It’s sometimes a brutal honesty. But it’s like you’re telling them things they

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can’t see because they’re kids, so I have to guide them. And they may be tough love, like you need to play harder. But usually, they don’t have to do that. Because we’re our team is motivated, like I always say can’t motivate and coach, you

Pete Carroll 03:08

You know Adia that I would ask I had the thought to ask you, you know, do you have a philosophy, you know, that you would call your philosophy. And you already you just told it, everything you just said to me the way I hear it, everything you just said, spoke to the decisions that you’ve made on how you’re going to function and how you’re going to operate and kind of your expectations, you know, be authentic and to be true and to care and to look after him. He might talk about being tough. He talks about, you know, look looking out for their best interest as well, all of that. That is that’s the philosophy that I know you’ve been coaching, you know, enough to be national championship all the way there and all that. But sometimes, like for myself, I didn’t know what my philosophy was 20 something years into coaching, I didn’t even think about it.

Adia Barnes 03:53

I know it’s hard because you’re like, people ask you stuff. And I’m like, I don’t know, I just do it like you’re like, I don’t know

Pete Carroll 03:58

yeah, you just stated it. And I’m so tuned into that kind of stuff that, you know, I can hear you. So I know what to expect of you. I know what and that’s what philosophy does. You know what, you don’t have to have it nailed where you can have a canned response. Although I always ask people, you know, do you you know, because it it is a step that happens along the way. But that’s, that’s incredibly clear, is incredibly clear that gonna be yourself, you know, you’re gonna look after ’em, you’re going to take care of ’em, you’re gonna demand of them. That’s it. That’s what it takes to be on the top of it. So that’s, that’s really cool that it’s that clear to you?

Audrey Cavenecia 04:32

Well, I think that also, I think it’s also kind of evolved. I think I was different when I first got the job, because everything’s so new. And I think that there’s a lot going on, it’s not all about basketball. It’s about like relationships and managing all the outside stuff. I think that the my philosophies kind of changed. Because I think in the beginning, I didn’t say no to anything. I didn’t. I was like hold everywhere a little bit like now but I’ve learned to like it’s okay. Like, you don’t have to talk about certain things like that. First, when I first got the job, I said, If parents call me, they can call me. I’m going to call back. I’ll talk about whatever. Now I’m like, I won’t to talk about playing time. Because everybody’s like, hey, when I realized it was so stressful. And everybody, everybody’s kids, like the best kid. And everybody’s, I’m sure everyone in your team, every quarterback is Russell Wilson. And if they’re not, they would be better if they had playing time, right? Like, that’s what, that’s the right thing. So I think I’ve understood like, okay, there’s certain things you don’t have to talk about. And you can have boundaries, and you can still, like, have it your way. And now that the honesty it doesn’t mean like, it’s always good. You know, it’s constructive criticism to

Pete Carroll 05:37

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True, true

Adia Barnes 05:37

It’s tough love. It’s the hard stuff. But I really know that like, I think that honesty is a big thing. Like, they may not want to hear it, but you’re being honest from the get go. And you’re saying, okay, you’re not playing because X, Y, and Z, or this is how you can earn playing time versus like, you don’t tell the truth. I think that that’s a problem with it. Yeah, I really do.

Pete Carroll 05:57

Yeah, that’s one of the great realizations that coaches, head coaches have to make soon, or they fail that if you’re not honest, if you’re not straightforward if you’re not really being true to who you are, they find you out. They they’re looking, they’re listening, it’s so important for them to try to figure out who the coach is, if you show signs that you’re you know, your bs on this, this topic, or you’re just telling them something that they want to hear they find you out.

Adia Barnes 06:24

They do

Pete Carroll 06:25

Yeah, so it’s that the realization that I don’t have any room to not be authentic and be true to myself, because I’ll get I’m gonna get had and that’s the last thing you want to be, you know, you know, and we were so we’re so motivated to try to figure it out that sometimes we try so hard, that we can screw it up. And it’s, it’s no different than our players playing. They tried too hard, they’ll mess up. We tried too hard as coaches we mess up to and and it’s and what you found and it’s so obvious in your idea watching you is how comfortable you are with you. And you know, you’re okay about that. And you’re not worried about whether they’re going to like you or not, you know that you’re okay, and they’re gonna like you and so the best.

Adia Barnes 07:03

They may not like me, some people don’t like me, that’s the case. Sometimes when something happens. I watched I look at Twitter, or something some says things. You’re like, oh, gosh, you know, like, you can’t watch that stuff. But you can’t ever make everybody happy. Right?

Pete Carroll 07:17

Well, it’s like the the comments you make, in your huddle in somebody overhears a comment that you make. As soon as I heard that I was I was listening at the time. When that happened. I thought well, that is that wasn’t meant for anybody but the people, right? You know, the people that she cares for her right in that group. And somebody else heard it on the outside. That’s like it does that should not be scrutinized, that should not be scrutinized in any way from an outside perspective. It wasn’t meant for them. It wasn’t intended. And it really wasn’t for them, you know, although they overheard it, you know, so I was always cheering for you right from the beginning. That’s that’s part of the reason I couldn’t wait to talk to you. So

Adia Barnes 07:50

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Thank you. Yeah, when you call me as though I was starstruck because I live in Seattle. I was like, of course, I know you. I should to be picking your brain. Don’t ask me questions. I want to ask you questions. It was funny, because he didn’t know I lived in Seattle for so many years. I played for the Storm. I’ve been following you forever. So I was like, you’re awesome. So it was I was a pleasure. I would answer your call anytime, anyplace. I was like, yeah I will be on your podcast.

Pete Carroll 08:13

I appreciate that. I have to admit, I’ve just been a super fan. So I didn’t know everybody on the team. I

Adia Barnes 08:20

No, Sue Bird was the important when I was just I was just her watergirl. Okay

Pete Carroll 08:26

Do you give credit? Do you credit people that you’ve been with that that have influenced you highly, and that made a difference in the way you see things in the way you operate?

Audrey Cavenecia 08:35

Yeah, there’s so many people. One of the people I truly credit is my college coach. She found me in San Diego, a little beach girl. You know, she found me as 17. I was really young and I got to college. And she saw something in me that other people didn’t, because I was a 5’10 post player that everybody said couldn’t play in the PAC 12. They said go to a smaller school, you’re going to go to Arizona, you’re going to be a little fish in a big pond, you know, go to like New Mexico, Colorado State somewhere else. And I felt something I felt a connection with Joan Bonvicini . And so I came to school at Arizona, and she continues to play a huge role in my life. Any major life lessons, and let me tell you that when I first got to college, I couldn’t stand her. I was like, she’s too hard on me. She’s always picking at me. She makes me run for everything. But I understood and when I was at the end of my sophomore year, okay, the tough love with love, the tough love was to make me grow. And so after that transformation and, and close to her, so we still talk all the time. She’s won, you know, like 800 games. She’s had an amazing career and she coasts so I use her in so many in so many ways now that I’m a coach like she comes and watches practice. I pick her brain about coaching stuff team stuff so it’s so amazing to have her as a mentor and in my life in Tucson. It’s a blessing and she has helped me tremendously throughout my career.

Pete Carroll 09:56

I’m sure it’s a great source of confidence for you that you have a place that you can go to every now and then.

Adia Barnes 10:01

And that you trust.

Pete Carroll 10:03

Yeah, phone a friend that you can trust. Yeah, that’s pretty, it’s pretty darn valuable. And it’s I know that I’ve needed, I’ve needed those phone calls over the years with those people that you know, have been influences for me as well,

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Audrey Cavenecia 10:13

Well then you’re at a different level. And I know it’s completely harder for you. But like, you don’t have a lot of friends. You have a few friends that it really gets, they always say lonely at the top, I’m not at the top, you’re really at the top. But it is lonely because you don’t really develop new friends because of your job. You kind of have like certain friends at different phases of your life. But you don’t have a lot of friends, you have a lot of acquaintances, but, and there’s certain stuff you can’t share with outside people. So you always have to like filter who you can tell what to because it might be something important for the team, they may say something. So there’s a lot of layers to everything. So it’s hard to have, like that confidant that you have, that will just not judge and give you honesty. And I think that’s a really hard to find.

Pete Carroll 10:56

Yeah, I’d I. You’re exactly on point with that. And I found that, you know, I’ve always talked about loyalty with with staff members, we have big staff of 20 guys on our staff. And so that but there’s a lot to be said about loyalty, but there’s different levels and degrees of loyalty and the people that were willing to tell you the difficult things that are willing to tell you the things that others don’t want to have to say, you know, because they’re not sure how you’re gonna take it, they’re not you know, they’re not gonna get in trouble. But it’s that loyalty from the people who really will tell you the things that sometimes hurt a little bit but but you need to hear them there. It’s so valuable. And if you if you if you don’t have the toughness to listen and to hear that you’re not getting better, you’re not gonna you’re really not you know, allowing yourself to stay curious and stay on the on the rise, you know, so it’s really important. Well, what I’m curious about when do you go back a little bit as when you made the transition from being a young girl to be a young girl athlete and you said I know I’m I really you know this I like playing this I like being you know, in sports, I like winning and all that when did that kind of transition for you? Can you recall what how old you are then and I’d like to share that for other girls that they get to hear this too because

Audrey Cavenecia 12:04

I know you’re really competitive like your beat when I saw your younger player self I was like, scared.

Adia Barnes 12:10

I was a good I was

Audrey Cavenecia 12:12

fire

Adia Barnes 12:13

It’s my fire in top. So I don’t know where I got that from. I always think back like, you know you’re raising your kids is that you’re thinking like, Where did that come from? Because I feel like you have it or you don’t like I’m competitive. Like I would if you were to say go tackle your mom, because you have to I would tackle my mom. Like I was just like, I really would have like I’m so competitive. I don’t know where that came from. But I look back and like thinking like how does that shape? So my dad was a pro football player many years ago, and I got I think I got that competitive competitiveness from him. My

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mom is so pretty like cutthroat. She’s like this Italian woman from Chicago. It’s like you fall you get back up. She’s pretty tough.

Pete Carroll 12:54

Yeah

Adia Barnes 12:55

Yeah, And I think that when I was growing up so intense, and when I was 10 years old in fifth grade, I want to play basketball and a lot I want to play just because my little boy friends not boyfriends, but like little boys that were friends. I had all boys that were friends. I was a tomboy. I used to ride my skateboard with them. I wanted to play basketball back then. Because like they were playing. So it’s like I want to play with you guys. So I remember there was question because they didn’t want a girl in the league. There was no girls league that in that fifth grade League, it was all boys. They gave me the exception I played that was the only girl in the league. I think I got tougher from them to me as being the only girl it’s like, I couldn’t cry. Yeah, because like you had to be tough when I was a little taller and a little better. Because you know, boys, they sprout up later. So I was kind of like a star. But I think I got tough from like, getting hit all the time. Like just just being with them not being able to cry or show my feelings that I know I was the only girl I think that started it. And back when I was playing we used to have to play with men and boys like even in like college, you go to play pickup there was never like a girls pickup League. There was never any women. So I think pick up with like men and you never want to like you have to be tougher because you get hit harder. And I think he just he just grow up that way. And I think my generation was tougher because of that. The kids now don’t ever play with boys. They have all the girls league.

Audrey Cavenecia 14:11

Interesting

Pete Carroll 14:11

It’s all structured

Adia Barnes 14:12

It’s very different. Like we didn’t have the I had to play it boys and men and get you know, knocked down. I’m gonna get my shot blocked. It made me better. And I think that’s what I’m just competitive. But I also think it’s something you have, like, I’m competitive with everything. I’m competitive with my husband. Like, you know, if we have like a ping pong game, like I want to win like I’m not playing to play like you know, we have air hockey, I’m trying to kill him. Like it’s just like, it’s just how I am and I but I look at like, sometimes I have to be like, oh okay, but I remember when I first got this job, Arizona, we were bad. And we were like 300 and the RPI. Now it’s the net. And like no one said anything good about the program. I remember I took all that personal all the negativity. I remember sitting in the PAC 12 meetings, looking across at all the coaches and just thinking I can’t wait til I kill all of them. Like, I can’t wait until like til we win so I’m not sitting here as like one of the worst teams, like I was on a mission. Like I was like, I’m not gonna sit here my whole career as like the worst team, this sitting in here not able to say anything because we’re bad. Like I was like, that’s not gonna be how I am, like I was on like, I was determined to do it. And I knew I could, I just didn’t know when. But I think it’s just the

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mentality I have. And I’m the type, like, if I go for it, and I do my best if I’m working hard, I’m doing everything I can the right way and I don’t reach it, then it’s not meant to be. I’m not someone I can hold my head high because I put my heart and so I did everything I could, and it wasn’t the right path, then maybe something else, but I feel like I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna try my best. Like, I didn’t think in 5 years we’d be build Arizona be playing for a championship. I thought I’d take like 7 or 10. But I didn’t care if it took 27 because I was gonna die trying, you know what I mean? it’s just

Pete Carroll 15:58

Yeah I do, matter of fact, I do

Adia Barnes 16:01

Are you the same way?

Pete Carroll 16:02

I can’t I can’t tell you how valuable Your words are. Right? Just what you’re saying right now for so many young kids, not just girls. You’re talking exactly the way great competitors see the world. And you there’s a there’s I always find it. And I don’t know if you see it in this way. But it’s this, this ongoing curiosity to try to figure out how you can get a edge

Adia Barnes 16:25

get the edge like anything. I was always like that.

Pete Carroll 16:28

That’s right. Yeah, you you have to be because you’re that kind of a competitor. That message for young young kids is so valuable. Just like can you imagine think about this in your lifetime there wasn’t girls leagues

Pete Carroll 16:40

like, that’s it that’s in your lifetime. That’s not like this, you know, 50 years ago or something in your lifetime, there wasn’t avenues for you to pursue developing a game that you love that you are curious about, you wanted to play in all that. And now that has changed, but even in the changes, I’m like you said, the fact that it is so structured, and so governed by the adults and all that where the kids don’t get a chance to just go out and mix it up and play and learn and grow and all those things that happen. It’s it’s to me it’s it’s surprising. I know my wife was an athlete as well. And she was like the first title nine athlete at our school, you know, at the college and that seems like God that would a big move. But even to into your lifetime. Sports was not available, you had to go ahead and break barriers and go against the grain and all that. And here’s the question I want to ask you. Do you feel like you have, is it a chip on your shoulder?

Adia Barnes 16:43

No, there wasn’t

Adia Barnes 17:33

I do

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Pete Carroll 17:34

Is it do you feel like it sounds like you have grown with something you’ve got something to prove. And it kind of doesn’t matter where it is, is just

Audrey Cavenecia 17:42

Pete likes people with chips on their shoulder.

Adia Barnes 17:44

I have a major chip on my shoulder, the chip is big. And the reason why the first chip started when like, you know, people told me I couldn’t go to Arizona, and I couldn’t do this than that. And I was something like I was like I’m gonna bet on me. I always believe in betting on me. Because I knew I was going to work hard. No one was gonna outwork me. Like the mentality is different. I It surprises me and disappoints me when our kids don’t have it. Like for instance, in college, I tried to win every single sprint there. I didn’t try to win on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, I wanted to win every sprint. I always tell Arie today she was my all American is flat past year, I said, Eric, you would have been beat me in a sprint. But I would have cost I would have be showing all your off days, the days that you were going because I would have made it a pact like I would have tried to find a way to beat I would have started early, I would have like figured out I would have worked on my form to beat or that would have been like my mission. So I think that the chip is big because I was always told I couldn’t do it. I was always told I wasn’t skilled enough. I wasn’t tall enough. And I made a 13 year career, not because I was the best player. But because I worked hard I was gonna figure it out. And another thing like I was like the best role player. And the reason why because I wasn’t good. I didn’t have skills like I didn’t shoot it. Well, I didn’t have like fundamentals. Okay, but like if the coach told me if the coach said, we need to rebound the ball better, then I was gonna be the best rebounding machine you could find. Like, it’s just like I just cued in on those things that I remember one year in the storm. And Domino was like, We need someone defensively that can come in and be a defensive stopper. I couldn’t even spell defensive call ins. I made it a mission to get in the best shape and be the defensive stop right now. I got killed by like the Diana Taurasi the Sheryl Swoopes. Like all those players, but I was like, if I got to play to be a defensive stopper, I turned into a defensive stopper. I like made it she was saying like in a practice, we need to get tips we need to fake better, I would have been the best faking. So she would use me in all kinds of examples. And I loved it because I would pick up on those key words of what the team didn’t have. And I was gonna bring that because I wanted to play, you know, and she would say, oh, get the ball to Lauren. Or Sue, I’d be like, Okay, if I don’t have to shoot but I didn’t care. I was selfless. I was like that’s what we need to do to win. I just want to do it to win cuz that’s could then help me play to be a defensive stopper to be a great screener? So I would have been, I would have made it my mission to be the best screener in the league, that nailing people getting fouls. Like, it was just the mentality that I knew to fulfill the needs from what people say. So my players that went Pro, I said, Listen to what she needs in camp. If she I was talking to Aira the other day, I said, She’s saying we need someone to be vocal, we need someone to bring energy, then be the most vocal, energetic person. And that’s your niche. And you will earn playing time, because you want to give the coaches something they can’t live without, I wasn’t a great player, but they needed a person that could run the plays, they could be a great teammate, that could be the glue. So you become that, and you find a way to get yourself an opportunity.

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Audrey Cavenecia 20:44

And I tell that to all of my players

Audrey Cavenecia 20:45

You really brought that to being a mom, too, because I know one of the things that I love that you shared was, I want to be an example of that you can do this career and be a mother. Is it hard? Yeah. Yeah, you got to do a lot of work. But it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. And I what I love so much about what you’re sharing is, you can really hear that you live inside of the context. It’s possible.

Adia Barnes 21:08

Yeah

Audrey Cavenecia 21:09

It’s possible.

Audrey Cavenecia 21:10

Yeah. Well, I think that, um, so like, during the final four, like, normally, there was a lot going on, like, for instance, I wouldn’t say oh, I was really a couple minutes late on this podcast, because I was trying to feed Capri and put her to sleep, I wouldn’t say that. I said I was a busy day, like, but that’s the reality. So that goes, I was feeding her and I was trying to put her to sleep before I did the podcast. But um, but it’s, it’s, you have to figure it out. Like it’s, there’s in our professional, you know, this coach Carroll like, you know, there’s no balance, like, there’s never gonna be balance, you’re gonna work 80 hours, it’s just kind of how it is. So you find a fit, you maybe bring your wife on more trips, like I bring my kids on trips, you figure out a way to kind of make it work. And like, so many women don’t have kids, because there is a stigma around it. Like a lot of I think they don’t think that you can be like, have a kid and do your job, well, well, I may get less sleep, I may not look as good to be in shape or something because like, I don’t have as much time. But I can do my job. Like I meant that now that means sometimes I may be pumping and watching film, or like, if you had a camera on my house, you’d be like, oh, gosh, this is a reality show. So you just figure out a way you may see me nursing would see me walking in the season with pumps on the film, but it’s like you do what you do to make it work. But you can do you don’t have to not have a family to coach. I think you’re a better coach when you’re a mom, because you understand love you. You’re more caring for your kids your kids are they’re able to see me be a mom, a wife, a coach and aspire to be at all not have a baby because I want to coach. And a lot of women do that. So I just wanted to say like, you can do it like today these I can do my job at the highest level and be a mom, this is a short period for me. She’s not always going to nurse I’m a nurse or for a couple more months

Audrey Cavenecia 22:55

Right

Adia Barnes 22:55

But it’s like I’m a mom then it’s a mentor raising a kid being a coach. I think that what better situations for my players to see.

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Pete Carroll 23:03

I’m so thrilled to hear you talk like this everything you have said there’s so many different ways I would like to share your thoughts with if I was sharing your thoughts with one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever known is Russell Wilson. And he’s going to hear this podcast. He’s going to hear you because because and he’ll have comments about it because he’s gonna go no kid No shit. That’s what he’s doing. That’s exactly

Adia Barnes 23:26

Cause that’s how you are you’re built different like you those you’re built different, I think.

Pete Carroll 23:31

Yeah, you you you get it. It’s amazing. You know, let me say some too else about balance. There’s not to think there’s there’s not balanced. It’s not

Adia Barnes 23:40

And women think there is and there is like no, I always hear women say oh work life balance. I’m thinking like I say myself, like, that’s not my career. Like there’s no balance, like I’m sorry

Audrey Cavenecia 23:49

Yeah

Adia Barnes 23:50

You don’t coach if you want balance?

Pete Carroll 23:51

No, it isn’t about balance. It’s about quality. It’s about when you have your time you make the most of your time and you are there and you’re present and you realize I’ve got to be able to do this I’ve got to be I have to come my word would be I’ve got to compete to be great in the moments that I have to give to my family and my wife and the people outside of the game and all you understand that balances that’s that’s BS, there’s no there’s no balance here. But it but you can, you can really manage the focus, you know that you bring in the love that you bring in the care that you bring in a way that you make every moment valuable in the end they feel you know, you love you and insensitive and you can you can be a great mom and a great dad not having the same hours. Because the hours that that are spent, you know, idly somewhere else in your brain somewhere that doesn’t. That’s not a value. It’s when you’re really there and present and all that so you’re all over it. I can’t believe how clear this is. So so there’s so this chip on the shoulder thing. Let me I’m gonna take it a step further. How about the players that you seek to have in your program? Like, let’s not even think

Audrey Cavenecia 24:54

Cause you’re a great recruiter, that’s something that was said a lot about you, what a strong recruiter you are

Adia Barnes 24:58

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Really

Pete Carroll 24:59

There’s, there’s

Pete Carroll 24:59

There’s no question that she is cause she’s just telling people, Audrey, just what’s important to her? And that’s so the chip on the shoulder. Do you recognize it in the people that you recruit? And it is it? Is it something you’ve already identified as is crucial to you?

Audrey Cavenecia 24:59

Yeah

Audrey Cavenecia 25:15

Yes. But I have to say, when I first got the job, I wasn’t getting those players, because those players are like that we’re at the best programs in the country. So I think that I could look for the, like, the, like tangible things that I could see. But I couldn’t get at this program at that time, the best competitor, that’s the most skilled, right? Like, it’s just, we, I didn’t have the luxury of that. So I had to recruit a little differently then than I do now. Because when I first got the job, I had to sell vision. So I couldn’t be as picky like, I x them, XYZ, all these things, because I wouldn’t have had anybody. So now the criteria is higher the standards are so I can be more selective. But I can tell you, my best player has that chip. She played and people and people said she played angry, I played angry. It wasn’t angry. But it was like it different person, it was like a zone of like, you’re in the zone, like you’re competing. And she plays like that. So coaching her has been amazing. Because I saw a lot of her and like of me in her. And she played with heart passion. And it was it was good to coach because I don’t do well with the players that I have to like motivate like, play hard, play hard. Like I can’t coach you. I always say you can’t coach and motivate someone. So that is a standard. Like it is you play hard and you don’t play for me, you play it for yourself, like so that’s just what you do. And then all the other stuff comes like I can coach it, we can coach footwork, we can coach shooting technique, but I can’t coach you to play hard, because you should just play hard, like anything I do when I slip on the court I play hard. I mean I can play pick up like, for instance, in theory in the Final Four, like I had a baby so Im out of shape right now. Oh, it’s funny how your mentality is, and this is that chip. So our big post player, she’s a six-five girl long, she was like coach I’ll race you. I was like, okay, like, and I shouldn’t have said, Okay, I really thought like, I’m a smoker. I really felt like, like, it’s like I had to forget, like, I just had a baby and stuff, but I have to lose 30 pounds, or 20 pounds. But like, I really was like, Oh, I’m gonna kill her. Like, I’m gonna beat her. And I like I couldn’t she beat me. And I was like, kind of mad. I acted like, I wasn’t mad. But I was.

Pete Carroll 27:24

Of course you were

Adia Barnes 27:25

I was like, I got beat by a post player who I was like, a foot taller than me. And then like, I was like, next year, you won’t beat me. So I will beat her next year.

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Pete Carroll 27:33

Yeah you will

Adia Barnes 27:34

Like I mean, you know what I mean? But like she is?

Pete Carroll 27:36

Absolutely. I know what you mean. I know exactly what you mean.

Adia Barnes 27:39

I was like trying to beat her and I actually no other coach would race her, our race was lame to the core and I was so mad, I lost. And I acted like I wasn’t but I was like, Oh, and I was I was really mad for a couple of days.

Pete Carroll 27:50

Okay, well, what we’re doing with this, this conversation is we’re making a great recruiting video for you.

Adia Barnes 27:57

I’ll pay you guys later

Pete Carroll 27:58

We want to send this to the parents, we want to send it to the coaches around the schools that you’re working with. Because they’re hearing it, you’re speaking just directly to it, you’re just on the topic of what it is to be part of your program and what it is to be within, you know, the guidance of your program. And it’s, it’s a great place to be there is so much comp in your what you’re talking about, you’re competing and everything.

Adia Barnes 28:20

Everything that I’m saying here is the same, you couldn’t be on your level if you weren’t

Pete Carroll 28:25

No, it’s music to my ears, I want my players to hear this, this. too I’m serious. You think I’m kidding, I’m serious. Because it is that it is at the essence of achievement is at the essence of finding the greatness that you have. And the player that you were has nothing to do with how well you play. It’s that it’s what you bring to it. You know, it’s what, what speaks to the potential that you have. I’ve never asked my guys to play great in a big game. I just wanted to be like they are just be

Adia Barnes 28:56

Be yourself do your job. I always say do your job,

Pete Carroll 28:59

Just be you on game day. And don’t let anything from the outside of the game that you’re playing in or the matchup or the coaches or you know, the star players on the other team affect how you play be you you know and that’s your you’re screaming it. So it’s it’s it’s great to hear. Well, can you can you tell us a

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little bit? I’m curious about aside from hoops in from coaching and all and from, even maybe it’s mothering? Maybe it connects to all of this? Do you feel a new sense of responsibility to have to have your voice heard to be to be to speak to share your thoughts? Are you there yet? in that thought,

Audrey Cavenecia 29:35

I’m getting there. The thing is, is that I didn’t feel like I was doing anything special. So like, I just felt like I felt like wow, like I kind of felt embarrassed sometimes like wow, women do this all the time. Like I didn’t feel like I was doing anything extraordinary. I just thought like I’m trying to survive and trying to make it like so it was amazing to me all the feedback and all the because I They’re like, Well, how do you Why do you have to hide that? I didn’t understand it sometimes. So, like the fact that I, I pumped what got national attention a lot, right? Is I pump during the halftime of the national championship game. But it never dawned to me like I’m pumping in the national championship game. I just said like, gosh I remember thinking, like, there’s like 5 million people watching, I felt a little bit of pressure because that’s what happens in your mom. Right?

Pete Carroll 30:23

Yeah.

Adia Barnes 30:25

And I was like, I had a pump, because I thought my fear was like to not have like water. I don’t want wet spots on national televsion. I would die. So I was like, I gotta go pump for five minutes. I’ll be good. You know, so it wasn’t even like a thought it was like, a necessity. And we always say GSD get stuff done. That’s a moms do. So I, I now, I guess I’m inspired by how so many women have told me like, wow, you inspire me. I’m like, Really? I did, like, and so it felt good. So I think what I’ve done is like, I’m trying to say that, why can’t you hire us? Like, I’m a mom. So I’m proof that we can do good that we can like kick butt at both. I’m not distracted. Like, don’t worry that I’m gonna have a baby and take off six months, I took off a week, I took off four days. Now some women think I’m crazy. But I was fine with it. I choose I chose that. So I’m okay. Did I come back and work 80 hours a week? No, I came back and did some work. But it’s what I choose to do. And so I think that the voice that I’ve tried to say is you can coach and you can be a mom, you don’t have to stop being a coach. You don’t have to quit. You don’t have to not breastfeed your kid because you’re coaching. You just pump on the side to go pump in the halftime, like I did you go pump right before the game and people didn’t know, in a typical game, I wouldn’t have pumped at halftime. But because of all the media obligations, I didn’t have a choice. Normally, I pumped like 23 minutes before the game, and I have like a schedule. But all the media I didn’t have time to and a lot of times, there’s no place to do it. So I’ve tried to bring attention to like, We’re an afterthought as women and moms, like half the time where there’s no place to pump. So I gotta like go in the bathroom, or have to like to feed my daughter and the way the game. So I’m just saying if you want us to do well on women’s basketball want to support us, like we’re all here because the women and at this age, we’re all having women pretty much in their head coach support us and give us the resources. Maybe you have a corner, a corner area to pump. It’s not a lot. And it’s okay, so it’s not something that we should be ashamed of doing. I didn’t advertise it. I actually didn’t tell it halftime because normally I’m gonna type I go do it, I come out like it’s nothing. So I would I would do it my view to sell in the hallway doing my bra walk it out, came out like I always act like you don’t do it. But I think what it resonated with so many women because they’re like, cos I’ve been there. How does she do that in that setting. And I’m

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just like, I have to do it all the time. It’s not a big thing to me. So if I can help another woman, or inspire another coach, to have kids and do her job and say you can do it, like that’s for me that that’s important, because I don’t know, just inspires someone else is a blessing.

Audrey Cavenecia 32:55

And it’s it doesn’t seem like I mean, a lot of people in unique positions like yourself, whether or not a lot of women will be like, well, I just want to be known as a great coach to have to be known as a female coach. But I do think that just like the saying is if you see it, you believe it and you can achieve it. And there’s so many things by just having the view and knowing that you did that just being able to see a woman doing those things opens that which we don’t realize hundreds of opportunities, if not thousands of opportunities, because it’s now implanted in that little girl’s mind. Or it’s implanted in that mother’s mind for that next career move she wants to do or what have you. It’s that subtle, and that powerful, like, visualization is like the context for everything in our brain, you know, and you provided that with that one normal thing and you’re in your process of life. But it was so out of context for being on the court and being in the game and all of that, like you don’t hear breast pumping in the narrative of championship-ness, you know? Those words don’t usually come together.

Adia Barnes 33:56

No, they really don’t. And that’s not something I ever even thought about because I just was doing what I do. And so for me, I remember and I remember, so I was coming not late, but like there was like two minutes left, usually. And that’s what’s average gave me about four minutes. I didn’t have a choice. So I’m walking out. I remember Holly stopped me. I never told her I was pumping. So someone else must have told her. Oh, she’s running behind cause she had the pump. I would have never said that. I would have just said Oh, I’m good. I just had to go bathroom. Like I would have never told the truth about it. And so when she said in so is it okay, I was like, I’m fine with that. I don’t care. I got to pump like, it’s no big deal. But just her baby, I have to pump. So I didn’t think about it until other women said, Wow, I wouldn’t have a place or I would have to do and I’m like, Yeah, I do that all the time. And the funny thing is, is that I told this story at someone else like so at halftime when I gave myself five minutes to pump. I was like, okay, five minutes, I’ll be okay. So I talked to my coaches I was so if you saw on the video, I’m like writing down the three things offensively three things defensively to make adjustments at halftime. So this is simple. So I’m writing those things out as I’m pumping Then I go out to talk to the team because you only have 15 minutes. So I give them like five to seven minutes and beginning to get settled in the bathroom and stuff. So I come out there, but I still had like the pump stuff on

Audrey Cavenecia 35:10

Oh

Adia Barnes 35:11

Because I didn’t have time I didn’t want to take it off. So I just kept the pumping things on. And I unplugged myself. So I like, covered myself with a blanket and I tucked it in here, and I go out to talk to the team. And then it falls. So like I’m talking about these adjustments is 123 offensively 123 defensively, and then during that it falls on the ground. So you see like these, like, pumps and boobs everywhere. And I was like, Oh my gosh, so I pull it up, and I put it up, back up. And then everybody was silent for like, five seconds. I was like, sorry. And then they all like started cracking up. So like,

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broke the ice. And then I just tucked it in, I went back to do what I’m doing. I think God, I’m not like shy. But um, but it was like what happens and then I was I have to take it off and plug it get out. And that’s one of those things, but they got to see a real moment. And it like broke the ice. But that was like they had no they didn’t know I was back there pumping. But it’s like what we do. So I think that they’re gonna understand this later on in life. Like, wow, she’s pumping on this, so you can do it. And I think that it doesn’t have to be so taboo. It’s a part of life. It’s like we’ve all you’ve seen your wife do it like your daughter’s I’m sure it’s just, it’s I don’t know why it was so negative or so hidden or people were so shocked. I did it at halftime. They’re like, Wow, she did a national champion, like what else am I supposed to do? Like walk out? The girls guy this guy do you know, I think the alternative would be worse, the wetness versus the pumping, but it’s just you, I just am transparent about those things. Because it’s okay, I’m not like, worried about losing my job because of it. And if I were to lose my job, because I’m gonna find a better job. Like, I’m not, I have to be who I am in the space, doing the best, like, representing myself in a great way for our school. And like, I just had, like, try to find a way to do it and get the job done.

Pete Carroll 36:59

Adia you are, you’re really a treasure, not just to moms and to women, but to all people. Your perspective, I would say and from all of the time I’ve been working and trying to figure all this stuff out how to be great at what you do and help others be great at what you do. Whether it’s sports, or whether it’s business, or whether it’s community work, or political work, or you know, corporate work, the mentality that you shared with us. It’s universal, it’s a universal mentality. Now I’ve tried to go to even at SC trying to teach the class of what it is to compete in which, to me that’s the way I’ve always come back to it’s you know, it’s all about competition, you know, and that word has been able that concept has been able to give me you know, a vehicle to talk about and to address in just the words that you are, you’ve expressed so clearly in the perspective that you’d expressed, and it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you got to do what you got to do in whatever it takes. And once you realize where you will is if you have the attitude that you have just shared with us. You’re gonna make it there you even if it wasn’t if they said to you, okay, now you can’t coach basketball here to Arizona. You’re not worried about that.

Adia Barnes 38:11

No I like it. Yes, I don’t believe you can do something else like to me, like if they said, Oh, you can’t do that. Or you’re we’re gonna fire you because you pump the halftime I say, okay, that’s fine. Yeah. And then this isn’t the right place for me, then I’m gonna go get a better job. But I feel like those things. When you do that when you’re a good person, and you’re loving and you’re serving people and you are you are doing it with your heart for the right reasons. I feel like if that happened, another bigger door would open and it would be better. I would say okay, I’m gonna get a better job and win more championships or win the championship. I haven’t won yet.

Pete Carroll 38:45

Yeah, yeah

Adia Barnes 38:46

But i’m trying to follow you and win

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Pete Carroll 38:47

You’ll survive getting cut and fired, whether you’re getting cut or whether you’re getting fired at the Patriots or at the Jets, you’ll you’ll survive it with the mentality you’ll you’ll make it thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

Adia Barnes 39:01

Yeah, thank you. And I want to hear some more of these

Pete Carroll 39:04

We happen to be close to around Mother’s Day, Happy Mother’s Day and I don’t know if that fits in all this wherever this thing plays but you have just you’ve given so much strength and power to so many women and others to I don’t think it’s just women, I think if anybody wants to listen to you, but congratulations and continued success, and I hope you continue to have so much fun doing what you’re doing because I know you are

Adia Barnes 39:24

Thank you. I am. I’m having a blast. I feel like I haven’t worked a day in my life. How many years have you been coaching Pete?

Pete Carroll 39:31

It’s 40 something or other, I don’t know

Adia Barnes 39:32

So I hope I feel that way in year 40 something because I do that if I last that long.

Pete Carroll 39:39

Well, you will if you if you choose to you will. There’s nobody gonna keep you from getting there. Congratulations on a fantastic season and a great year and just all of the leadership that you’re bringing so many people Thank you.

Audrey Cavenecia 39:49

Thank you, Bye

Adia Barnes 39:50

Have a great day, bye

Pete Carroll 39:51

Bear down

Pete Carroll 39:52

Bear down Go cat. Bye

Audrey Cavenecia 39:55

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Wow, she’s great.

Pete Carroll 39:57

Isn’t she something? Wow, what a powerhouse

Audrey Cavenecia 39:59

She is really great. I did not know, I start when I was watching those videos of her I was just like, Wow, because she’s got so much personality, you can’t capture it in the text. So even reading through it, I was like, Oh, that’s, you know, wow. Which is really impressive and whatever. But when I watched the videos, and I, it was, the one in particular was so amazing because she, during practice, and during the whole, you know, developing her team, she lost a child, stillborn was like their got the news from the doctor held back tears sat there, coached them the rest of the way. I mean, it was like, and then she had go immediately to the hospital.

Pete Carroll 40:11

Oh my gosh.

Audrey Cavenecia 40:29

And this woman is just like, all of this stuff in her husband works with her as a coach. That’s how they met. I mean, how she is and the sort of there’s like this power and joy. She has like such a wonderful balance of both of them that I thought she just leaps off the screen, so to speak with that personality, she’s great.

Pete Carroll 40:59

She’s so clear, she’s so clear about what it is to be a great competitor that that’s me, I can’t mean that’s my limited way of looking at it. I can’t see it any other way. She is the epitome, she is the epitome of what it is to be a great competitor. She sees everything as a challenge. She sees everything as an opportunity to do well. And it doesn’t matter what it is or where it is. And she’s and she’s ready at all times. She’s always on that’s what great competitor, you can’t turn it on and off and be great. This is something that if it comes and goes and then you’re less than and everything about her language, her perspective, her clarity, just screams of really excellence. And wow, what a really, it’s a thrill for me to meet a coach like that. And to meet a person like that it happens to be a mom that she can do it all, she can just do it all.

Audrey Cavenecia 41:48

It was really great because her when some of the stuff that I saw was her players were talking and they said, because the husband’s there too. They’re like, we kind of feel like that’s mom, that’s dad, we’re all the children here, but but you can see that she’s uncompromising in her commitment to win. And at the same time never compromises loving them.

Pete Carroll 42:09

Yeah, no, she, she truly leads with love and care, she really does. And they can’t, they can’t deny that that she’s got to be great to be around and to play with and play for and all of that. And what a great teammate I know, she was, I’m sure that in which Sue bird who’s one of the great competitors of all

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time, has said that so clearly, too. And what a what a What a great visit. That was that was really something.

Audrey Cavenecia 42:32

You know what the other thing that I was just gonna say like, I know that people listen to coaches like yourself, and obviously like her in this case. And they think like, how can I apply that to my business life? How can I apply that other places. And I, one of the things that was so striking, besides just her tenacity and focus is that she brought up transparency and communication. And you can kind of look and think of people leading companies or leadership, there’s so much stuff that they don’t openly communicate, they don’t say, here’s what’s going on, or let me explain the whole thing to you so that you can get, but she just proved that and I know you’re exactly the same way. How much that makes a difference to your people. When you are transparent. And communication is one of the strongest things that’s going to hold people together.

Pete Carroll 43:17

Yeah, authenticity screams, she’s, she has to be right, exactly on the truth of what’s what’s important to her to be effective. And she knows that that’s what makes her incredibly consistent. I’m sure she’s going to be really good for a long time. Now, there’s nothing to keep her from that. As long as she can keep finding those players that want to play like her. She’s gonna be when she didn’t have them she wasn’t a successful, now that she’ll find her way and attract players like that, in her sporting part of her life. She’s going to be highly successful. And there’s, there’s that’s, that’s, I think that’s what takes it takes to have consistency. Because her formula and her philosophy, whether she can say this is my philosophy, or she just talks to you and then you know what it is? She lives it and that’s really, really important and that’s that authenticity and being true to your identity and all she’s she’s nailing it and yeah, what a champion.

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Adia Barnes

Adia Barnes is the award-winning head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Arizona and a former professional basketball player. In college, she played for the University of Arizona Wildcats, where she now coaches; she then went on to play seven seasons in the WNBA, for the Houston Comets, Seattle Storm, Minnesota Lynx, and Sacramento Monarchs. She began her coaching career as an assistant coach for the University of Washington Huskies and returned to the Wildcats as head coach in 2016. In 2021, she brought her team to the NCAA Championships, the first time ever for the school.  

Adia has long advocated for equal rights for women and women of color in basketball and beyond. She brings a lot of heart, love, and joy to the court, and is known for really listening to and empowering her team; she sees her role as a mentor above all else and makes no apologies for always being herself.  “My job is to help other women,” she says. “And I’ve been doing it every day.” 

Meet The Hosts

Host

One of only three coaches to win a Super Bowl and a college football national championship, Pete Carroll is in his 11th year as head coach and executive vice president of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.

Meet Pete

Co-Host

Audrey Cavenecia is the Chief Content Officer and Co-Producer for Amplify Voices and the co-host alongside Pete Carroll for the Amplify Voices Podcast.

Meet Audrey

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