May 15, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. - This story originally ran on the Associated Press Wire May 15, 2008
Joanne Boyle wants to adopt a baby from Africa, knowing full well the challenges of raising a child as a single woman coaching college basketball.
She is taking her California team on a cultural trip to Africa later this month, and it will be a personal mission for the 44-year-old coach, too.
Boyle hopes that, before long, she will bring a baby boy from Senegal back to the San Francisco Bay area. She will begin the journey toward adoption during the Golden Bears' upcoming 11-day tour through Tunisia and Senegal. It could take a year or longer.
"It's all political -- make a donation to the orphanage, get your paperwork started," said Boyle, who is soon expected to receive a new long-term deal to stay in Berkeley through the 2013-14 season. "We'll see. It'll be a process. It's not like I'm going over there and coming home with a baby, which all the kids think is going to happen."
She's been thinking about adoption for a couple years now and had considered Africa or Eastern Europe as possible places to explore.
The team will travel to Dakar, Senegal, the birthplace of Bears center Rama N'diaye -- playing one of its two exhibition games in her city. In an unfortunate turn of events, the 6-foot-5 N'diaye injured her right knee in the first round of the NCAA tournament and underwent reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ligament and cartilage. N'diaye's family has never seen her play, since she spent her high school career in Japan.
She's still thrilled to be headed home with all her teammates at her side -- not to mention helping her coach get going on the adoption.
"That's great. We're going to go to the orphanage with her," said N'diaye, who could be off her crutches before boarding the long flight home. "I was surprised [about the trip]. I didn't believe it at first."
Boyle envisions what her days would look like balancing the demands of being a mother and big-time coach, especially once the child is in school. It's overwhelming to think about at times, too.
"Coach B., she loves kids," guard Alexis Gray-Lawson said. "Everywhere we go she's bothering somebody's kids. I think she'd be a great mom. She's raised half of us, and if she can do that she can do anything."
Boyle would hire a full-time nanny, something she's now financially able to do and a reason she has waited until this time to move ahead with an adoption.
"Timing is about where I want to be. Especially as a single person, you're limited to certain countries and age has a factor with that," she said. "When I decide I'm going to do it, I have to have all the pieces in place, knowing I have about a year to do that. The first step for me is going over there and seeing it, saying, 'OK, here's an infant. This is what you're going to do.' ... I'm not trying to go over there and bring a baby back."
The trip, from May 24 to June 3, will also include time for camel rides, a safari, a ferry tour to the 15th-century slave-trade dwellings on Goree Island and several instructional youth clinics. Boyle and her staff have shipped basketballs, used uniforms, T-shirts and shorts, as well as pacifiers, crayons and coloring books to the orphanage Vivre Ensemble where she might adopt her child. It is home to some 300 children, 150 of them infants.
N'diaye's mother will host the team for a meal with her large extended family. N'diaye speaks English as a fourth language behind her native tongue of Wolof, French and Japanese.
"It's important for me to show them that she lives in their world and for them to live in her world to see the differences and appreciate what they have and where they come from -- and how hard it's been for her to do what she's had to do," Boyle said. "She's probably related to every other person we're going to meet."
Boyle will bring DVDs of games to show the family.
Cal, which in March suffered a heartbreaking second-round NCAA loss to George Washington at the buzzer, has pushed ahead toward next season. She believes going to Africa together will only help in that process.
"There's nothing we can do. It felt like it took a long time to get over that hump and move forward, but at some point we just closed the door," Boyle said. "If we keep hanging onto it we're not going to be able to put 100 percent into next season."
Gray-Lawson hopes she and her teammates can reach out to the kids they meet and give them a small taste of American life, while also being reminded of how good they have it at home in the United States.
"It's one of those opportunities where you look at things, you look at everything we have here and see the things they don't have and become so grateful for what you have," she said.
Programs are allowed to make these international trips every four years. Boyle did similar tours during her time coaching at Duke, her alma mater, and Richmond.
"We have the potential to be really good next year," Boyle said. "This is our last year together with some of these really crucial, important pieces to our puzzle. This is our last hurrah, and this trip is kind of the start to that."