HOUSTON – Come to a University of Houston track and field practice, and you may see a toddler running the show.
She’s not a coach’s kid; her mom is student-athlete Mikaila Martin, who will head to Eugene, Oregon this week for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
“I wake up around six or seven and I take her to daycare,” said Martin, who competes in the hammer throw for UH.
After she drops Camryn off, her student-athlete responsibilities begin; stretching, practice, and weights. Her graduate classes are online, and after those are done, “we’re taking that bath and getting to bed.”
It’s a routine now, but when Mikaila found out she was pregnant three and a half years ago, she wondered if that was the end of her collegiate career.
“I’m not going to lie, I was scared because I’m like, ok, I’m six months pregnant. I was still throwing at the time, so I’m like, is my baby ok? Is everything ok? But come to find out, she was perfect,” said Martin, who actually managed to set three personal records while unknowingly pregnant with Camryn.
Martin had some doubts, but tennis legend Serena Williams happened to be pregnant at the same time; that helped Martin see that continuing her athletic career was possible.
“Her story encouraged me more because of the struggle she had coming back afterward,” explained Martin. “I felt that because it was a struggle. Being out of breath 24/7, and then breastfeeding and you’re swollen, but you still have to go through; I felt all of that.”
In fact, Martin related so much that she found herself asking, “What would Serena do?”
With help from her mom and coaches, Martin has made it work. Camryn is now three years old, and Martin will soon complete her graduate degree in human resources.
“It was a challenge, definitely, for her at first,” said Will Blackburn, UH track and field associate head coach. “Once we kind of realized, we can all work together on this, and it’s more of a family situation at U of H.
“We never looked at it like it’s going to be a problem. We always looked at it as this is awesome. Congratulations. Let’s keep up with your goals and aspirations,” said Blackburn.
While she competes at the NCAA championships, her biggest fan will be watching. For her, that’s all the motivation she needs.
“It was moments where I thought I wasn’t going to make it because who can juggle a child, track, and school at the same time? But I think I’ve made it work pretty well,” said Martin.
“I want to be an example for my child in the future. I don’t want her to be like, ‘oh well my mom couldn’t do it, it was too much on her plate,’ no, I want her to see like, ‘Hey, even though I was pregnant with you, I still did it.’”