Hudson Valley Sports Report


From Head Coach To Maternity Leave To Assistant Coach As Blazers Advance With Historic Win

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

Jillian Barnes has her baby, a bubbly three-month old girl named Zoey.

And she has her babies, bubbly teenagers named the Millbrook High School girls lacrosse team.

She beams with pride when she looks at both, especially after Tuesday night when the Blazers won Section 9’s first-ever state tournament game with a 15-10 Class D regional semifinal victory over Schuylerville behind six goals from Kaitlyn Daly.

Millbrook will play Bronxville on Saturday at 2 p.m. at neutral Suffern High School in a regional final and the right to go to the NYS Final Four.

For Barnes, it’s been an interesting season. The head coach of the Blazers for six years, she learned she and husband Jeff Barnes – teaching and coaching colleagues at Millbrook – were going to have their first child. And she knew it would spill into the season and prevent her from coaching.

“It was really hard knowing that I would not able to be there every day. This team was my “baby” before I had my baby so I really wanted to make sure that everything was taken care of,” she said.

So fellow coach Dawn Harkenrider took over the team in Barnes’ absence, but not before Barnes’ players gave her a baby shower.

Zoey was born on Feb. 28, barely two weeks before spring practice began.

“I told the girls in our preseason meeting how much they mean to me – they have been the ones who have been there through the most important years of my life,” Barnes said. “The current seniors were sixth graders when I got the job at Millbrook where I met and got together with Jeff, we got engaged – at an assembly at school! – married, pregnant and had our first child. When I look back on all these great years this will be the group of girls that I remember celebrating all those milestones with.”

After Barnes’ paid maternity leave from school ended and she was cleared by her doctor, she was able to come back as assistant coach and the art shows director at Millbrook.

“As for my role I have been doing some behind the scenes duties like stats and scouting reports for upcoming games,” she said. “Once my leave ended I’ve been going to practice and games about two, three times a week.”

Now she, Harkenrider and the Blazers are on the cusp of the state Final Four.

And baby, what a great story that would be.

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