Jordan-Elbridge girls varsity basketball coach Leslie Ahern had a feeling her assistant coach Mark Fietta would be coaching the Dec. 22 game against Solvay, even though her due date was more than a week away.
"She kept saying, 'Solvay's going to be your first game,'" Fietta remembered. "She had a feeling she would go early."
Fietta said when the Eagles faced Bishop Ludden on Dec. 18, Ahern took a seat on the bench and Fietta led the girls to victory, giving the coaches and players a dry run of what was to come.
Ahern's premonition proved true when she gave birth to Shannon Edwards Ahern, III on Dec. 19. He is Ahern and husband Shannon's second child. Their daughter, Abby, is 3.
Thankfully, good planning has allowed for a relatively seamless transition from Ahern to Fietta, and allowed the Eagles to continue a successful season.
Fietta, who coaches the girls varsity lacrosse team at JE, said he and Ahern began planning in September.
"We've been planning this and planning this, and it finally happened," Fietta laughed. "We were just waiting for it to happen during a game."
Fietta and Ahern both teach physical education in the JE district, Fietta in the middle school and Ahern at the high school, allowing them almost daily contact with the varsity teammates.
"They've been really excited and great with Coach, telling her to relax and take it easy," Fietta said of the girls. "They're 'almost like little mothers,' that's what Leslie said one day."
The coaches worked together to keep the coaching style fluid througout the season, regardless of who was calling plays.
"When Leslie was here I was just watching and observing, seeing what her coaching style was," Fietta said. "It's her program, I'm just filling in for a couple weeks. I'm not doing anything new."
So far, that's worked out for the Eagles, who hope to continue a six-game win streak (under Fietta's direction, JE won the Dec. 28-29 Hannibal Holiday Tournament) against Marcellus on Jan. 5.
Typical maternity leave for the district is six weeks, but Fietta said he knew Ahern would like to get back on the sidelines as soon as possible. He said he planned to coach until the middle of January, and hoped to stay on through the rest of the season once Ahern returned.
After that, he will have about one week of downtime before the lacross season begins.