It really does take a village to raise a child. Ashley Webster and her son Aiden found theirs in the Saint Leo University Basketball Team.
When Ashley got her dream job as an assistant basketball coach, she could not have been happier. It is something she has always wanted to do. However, when she was hired, she was several months pregnant with her first child.
But worry didn’t set in for long thanks to her new boss. Lance Randall, head coach for the men’s basketball team, told Ashley to simply bring her son with her to work!
“He’s like, ‘Well, you can bring him with you,’ Ashley shared of her previous conversation with Lance. “He was like, ‘We have plenty (of) people in the gym that can watch over him and that way, he’s with you.”
Ashley had her son Aiden in February 2021. And just three months later, she started working as an assistant coach at Saint Leo University in May.
Since the first day she brought him to work, the team has welcomed Aiden on the court. According to Ashley, he’s been unofficially adopted by the team and coaches!
“Everybody looks out for Aiden,” Ashley said. “I could walk out of the gym and I wouldn’t think anything of it because I knew Aiden was going to be OK.”
The flexibility and understanding of the team and coaches have been priceless. Without it, Ashley, a single mother, admits she would not have been able to take the job. The new responsibility as a parent and the cost of childcare was overwhelming.
“When I was first pregnant, I started looking at day care and I distinctly remember putting the prices into the calculator and was like, ‘I obviously got it wrong because there’s no way day care is this expensive,'” she said. “So for me not to have to go find day care, that was huge because as a single mom it’s very hard. You’re working on one income.”
Living on one income was hard and she still had to find additional work, often in the evening as her parents watched Aiden, to make ends meet. The blessing in disguise was her coaching position which provided great bonding time with her son.
“It was the hardest year of my life,” Ashley said. “But my happy place was coming to the gym.”
Lance didn’t have to think twice about welcoming Aiden. He was determined to figure out a way to make it work. A father of four himself, he said the team is like a family and his own children grew up on the court as well. He also said that because college sports can be challenging at times for players, the baby was just what everyone needed to stay level-headed.
“It became a really great thing for our guys,” Lance said. “We’d be on the floor in our film sessions and Aiden would come tottering over and fall in the lap of one of our guys and sit there and watch. It’s adorable.”
From sleeping through basketball drills to now playing with toys on the sidelines, Aiden is like the sixth man on the team. And everyone loves him.
“Outside of my family and friends, it’s just me and Aiden, so to have all those brothers and male role models for Aiden was amazing,” she said, “I’m blessed that it worked out that way and I’m forever grateful.”
Aiden and Ashley had a great year of growth on the court thanks to Saint Leo University and are so grateful for their village. She got so much more than a dream job in this deal… she got an extended family!
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