Brittany Read is living, as they say, her best life.
She’s an assistant lacrosse coach at the University of Denver, where the fifth-ranked Pioneers finished the season 19-0 overall and 6-0 in Big East play, including Sunday’s conference championship win over No. 24 Connecticut.
More importantly, Read, who’s made 200 saves in 109 quarters played in her first two seasons with Athletes Unlimited and is gearing up for a third campaign this summer, is preparing for something special on May 14.
Something she’s never experienced firsthand.
Sure, she’s celebrated her mother, Denise, on past Mother’s Day holidays.
But this Sunday she and wife Crysti Foote will celebrate their first Mother’s Day as parents of River, their son who was born in November of last year.
With both entrenched in their respective seasons, Read said she hasn’t made any plans for her first Mother’s Day with Foote, the head coach at Regis Jesuit High School and who also owns a club lacrosse team, Best Foote Forward Lacrosse.
That didn’t stop the young mother from wearing an ear-to-ear grin when talking about “River Roo,” as she calls her son, who will be six months old two days after Mother’s Day.
“It’s surreal that it’ll be two days shy of the six-month mark when it’s Mother’s Day,” Read said during a recent Zoom session. “You can’t rush the milestones. You have to live in the moment and enjoy every moment. Time flies if you’re not paying attention.”
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Considering the mental aspect it takes to succeed in net as a goaltender, something Read said is 99% of the battle, she’s been able to apply the same approach toward real-life situations, whether it’s in coaching or being a mother.
She’s shared the thought process with her players at DU, where the Pioneers rank No. 1 in the nation in allowing just 5.84 goals per game.
“I try to tell all my goalies I coach if you could figure this out on the field, these are amazing life lessons far beyond lacrosse and things that you’ll take with you the rest of your life,” said Read, who medaled with Athletes Unlimited in 2022 and ranked fifth in 2021. “It really is that mental game of knowing yourself, knowing your mind, how to talk to yourself positively. All those things that mold you into who you are, being a good person, being able to be competitive.
“But I think it really comes down to self-talk and confidence, honestly, that carries into the real world for the rest of your life.”
And it’s been the stressful moments as an athlete or coach that’s helped her and Foote under duress as a parent.
River was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) when he was born. He came home from the hospital on oxygen and has experienced breathing issues. He’s returned to the hospital twice since being born, and ridden in an ambulance. Throughout the trying times, most of the physicians have relayed their amazement with Read and Foote’s composure, telling them it’s why he’s been able to withstand the trauma by vibing off of them.
“In those moments, we have both just been so calm as new parents and been able to handle those situations, I would say fairly well,” Read said. “And I think that definitely comes from our experience on the field coaching. You might be a little panicked inside, but you know that he vibes off of your vibes. So you have to show him the calm side and you have to be the one to calm him down even though you might be thinking, ‘Oh, no, what’s gonna happen?’ and be able to redirect those thoughts of like, ‘No, this is gonna be okay.'”
River has reached an age where he’s begun eating food and moving around, while also attempting to roll over. He’s starting to crawl and wants to stand. Being raised in an athletic household, it’s no surprise there’s a sense of competitiveness toward every accomplishment, each milestone.
“We definitely get a little competitive with that,” Read said. “And that’s where your self-talk comes in. You have to remind yourself you can’t compare him to anyone else and his timeline is his timeline, and he is who he is.”
Being who he wants to be is exactly the approach Read and Foote will one day take when their son starts playing sports.
Read started her athletic journey in love with baseball, but when it came time to start wearing an athletic supporter, her mother wanted to relocate her to a different sport.
Lacrosse, which is big in New Jersey, where Read is from, became the sport of choice.
“I wanted nothing to do with it, I loved baseball,” Read admitted. “I had always been around baseball my whole life because my brother was really good at baseball. So I just grew up at his games and ever since I could, from T-ball to third grade, played it.
“And then she put me in lacrosse and (I) ended up loving it and that was it.”
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She played softball briefly, in middle school, but by then had fallen for the sport that would become her future.
She received scholarships to play lacrosse in college, first at Louisville and then at Oregon.
Fresh out of college, Read played professionally for a now-defunct league and then took two summers off.
Going from her college career and playing a sport she’d competed in most of her life, every summer, to having nothing for two summers, she admits she lost her mojo.
Returning to the field with Athletes Unlimited helped her regain a focus she thought she might never have again.
“Lacrosse is my identity and it helped me be who I want to be off the field as well, and I think that’s been really huge. It kind of helped me find a purpose again, I would say,” Read said. “It brought so much energy back off the field. I cared about so many more of the little things that maybe I had lost. Like even your pregame routine like that, that’s so fun. Those little things, realizing when you are having a bad day, going back to your routine, on gameday that you always figure it out. So when I’m having a bad day, what do I do to figure it out? Yeah, and those little things of life lessons that lacrosse has taught you were just a really good reminder and brought the energy back for sure.”
With River at lacrosse daily, whether he’s with Read at DU or Foote at Regis Jesuit, one thing they’re certain of: “He’s either gonna learn to love it or hate it.”
Either way, they’ll be fine with whatever he chooses.
“I want to be open-minded as a parent overall,” Read said. “I don’t want to force him down any path. I want to guide him and let him make choices. I’m going to be fully invested in whatever he’s fully invested in. And if it changes month to month, it changes month to month. We can’t make him who we want him to be. He’s going to be who he wants to be.”
First things first, however, that’s the initial Mother’s Day celebration for Read and her family.
W.G. Ramirez is a 36-year veteran sports reporter in Southern Nevada, serving as a correspondent for Athletes Unlimited. Follow him on Twitter at @WillieGRamirez
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