COLUMBIA, Mo. — Theo Stine has yet to be born but took in his first MSHSAA Wrestling State Championships last week.
His parents, Clay Stine and Miranda Bennett, were both coaching Willard in the Class 3 tournament in Columbia, less than two months before his due date of April 27.
Bennett became a rarity of sorts in the coaching wrestling circles by being pregnant during the season – but some of that is a byproduct of girls wrestling being relatively new and far less female coaches than males at this point.
She ran into only one other coach all season that was pregnant.
“It is definitely a learning curve,” Bennett said of coaching pregnant. “I’m a very hands-on coach and I like to show technique and still live wrestle and it’s been harder as the season went on because when I needed to fix little fundamental things, there were some situations that I can’t actually physically do. I have an assistant who wrestled before, Grace Lawhon, who wrestled for Willard throughout high school and she’s been with me for the last two years. She definitely picks up where my pregnancy kind of let up, which is great because I don’t know how I would do it myself.”
Bennett and Stine met incidentally at rival schools, both starting coaching four years ago. Stine at his alma mater Willard and Bennett at her alma mater Neosho. They have been dating since then and Bennett made the move to Willard two years ago to be the girls wrestling coach.
Bennett coached all season pregnant, which caused a few adjustments in her second year guiding the girls program as the associated head coach.
“I was crossing my fingers that it wasn’t going to fall where my due date was during the season,” said Bennett, a fifth and sixth grade physical education teacher at Willard Intermediate South. “Because that wouldn’t have been fair to my athletes. It just felt kind of perfect because this was my first whole year teaching as well. I’m due late April and I will be able to finish the rest of my maternity leave right into summer.”
Theo will join older sister, Aubri, 8, and brother, Blaken, 11.