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May 22, 2018

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

UNLV softball coach sets example by balancing motherhood, coaching

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Steve Marcus

UNLV head softball coach Kristie Fox-Jarvis poses with her son Mikie, 4 months, her husband and assistant coach Andy Jarvis and “Little Andy,” 2, in a dugout at the Eller Media Softball Stadium at UNLV Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018.

Kristie Fox planned to quickly return to work this fall after giving birth to her second child. After all, the UNLV softball program she helms had a season to prepare for.

Not in her wildest imagination, though, did she envision the turnaround being only a few hours.

Fox, the Rebels’ first-year coach, gave birth to her son Mikie at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 1. A few hours later, a gunman opened fire at concertgoers on the Strip in the worst mass shooting in modern American history, sending many into panic mode making sure loved ones were accounted for.

So, from her hospital bed, Fox began messaging players.

“That showed she is invested in us and cares about us — not just as players, but as people,” outfielder Myranda Bueno said.

Five days later, Fox stopped by workouts to introduce her newborn to the team. She had 2-year-old Andy in tow, too. Shortly after, she returned to running on-field drills.

Never has she questioned if she’s a good mother. Same with being a good coach.

“When you love what you do, you make it work,” Fox said.

Making it work is made easier because of her assistant coach, husband Andy Jarvis. They started coaching together at UT-Arlington, where the 32-year-old Fox spent five seasons before landing at UNLV last July. She’s high-strung and energetic; he’s calm in his approach.

Together, they made it work — even when things get chaotic.

“This is our life,” Jarvis said. “We love our job. We love our kids — our own kids and the players on this team.”

She was seven months pregnant and coaching with the national team in Florida this summer when she was hired at UNLV, cuing some hectic days of transition. The family had to relocate to Las Vegas, get familiar with a new roster of players and start executing a plan to build the Rebels into a winning team. The last winning season was 2011.

While she was thrilled to come to UNLV — a better conference, dynamic city and closer to her native San Diego — the timing wasn’t ideal in constructing a roster because 2017 prospects had long firmed their college plans. She wasn’t able to upgrade the roster of last year’s 25-27 team but promises that won’t be an excuse.

The expectation is to be competitive in every game and inning, regardless of the opponent.

“I know there are going to be days when (players) aren’t at their best,” Fox said. “All I ask is for 100 percent of what you have for me today.”

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UNLV head softball coach Kristie Fox-Jarvis poses with her son Mikie, 4 months, her husband and assistant coach Andy Jarvis and "Little Andy," 2, in a dugout at the Eller Media Softball Stadium at UNLV Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018.

Fox was labeled as one of “softball’s top young coaching talents” when she was arrived at UNLV. In 2012, she was one of the nation’s youngest head coaches when she was hired at UT-Arlington, where in five seasons she won 134 games, including an increase in wins in each of the last three seasons. She also helped with a $3 million renovation of facilities and plans similar upgrades for UNLV.

“I'm jealous the younger players get to have her as their coach all four years,” said Bueno, a junior, who last season batted .325 with 24 runs scored.

Fox had a storied college career at the University of Arizona, helping the Wildcats win the national championship in her final two seasons. She was a two-time All-American and established a Women’s College World Series record with 11 hits during her senior season.

The accolades give her creditability with a new team. But that’s not the lone reason. Players see their coach balancing life, and doing so with dignity and class, and realize they can have the best of both worlds, too.

There are going to be days when Fox and Jarvis are overwhelmed in the balancing act. Just like they’ll be days when players commit an error or hit into a double play. But, together, Fox is confident the UNLV family — including sons “Little” Andy and Mikie — will accomplish great things.

“I’m a mom. I’m a coach,” Fox said. “There’s no reason why I can’t do both things well.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21