BERKELEY – The fact that Cal running backs coach Pierre Ingram and his wife Dani named their daughter Berkley sure makes for a good story.
It would be an even better story if the young lady wasn’t born in Louisiana.
Still, the Ingrams get a kick out of the fact that their soon-to-be 2-year old is now named after the city in which they live and where Pierre works.
“When we found out we were moving here, I thought, ‘Are you serious? Berkley is going to live in Berkeley?,” Dani Ingram said. “I actually thought it was pretty cool that it happened.”
The Ingrams were still living in Louisiana when their daughter was born. Pierre was the running backs coach under head coach Sonny Dykes at Louisiana Tech. Dani has family in the Bay Area, but Pierre had never set foot in California before moving to Cal with Dykes.
“We named her Berkley and I remember when Coach got the job, the first thing that crossed my mind as, ‘We’re going to Berkeley with Berkley’,” Pierre said. “It’s a neat deal, and I know a lot of fans like it. It’s pretty neat to be part of the Cal family and her have the name of the city we are in.”
The way Pierre saw Berkley for the first time is a story in itself. Louisiana Tech was preparing to host San Jose State in a game in which the Bulldogs could qualify for a bowl game in 2011. Dani was a week shy of her due date, but right before Pierre was about to lead the kick returners on to the field at Joe Ailet Stadium, Dykes’ wife, Kate, came racing up to Ingram in the tunnel that leads to the field.
“Kate Dykes runs in and she’s telling me to calm down, but the whole time she is panicking,” Pierre said. “I had to calm down because she had me hyped up.”
Pierre and Dani had agreed that if she went into labor during a game, Pierre would still coach and then get to the hospital as soon as possible afterward. Dani’s doctor, Laurie LeBleu, was the wife of another Louisiana Tech coach and was with the expectant mother at a pregame tailgate when her water broke. Dani’s mother, Anisa, was also in town from New York and drove her to the hospital, which is located in Monroe, about 30 miles from Louisiana Tech.
Ingram didn’t want anybody to know his wife was in labor during the game because he didn’t want to serve as a distraction. He tried his best to block it out as the game unfolded, and the Bulldogs’ notched a jubilant 38-28 in over the Spartans.
As the game clock expired in the fourth quarter, coaches and players met at midfield for postgame handshakes. – except for Ingram.
“As soon as I saw double-zeroes on the clock, I hit a 4.2 in the 40-yard dash across the field and ran out and got in my car as fast as possible.” Ingram said. “I feel bad because you usually go out and shake hands with the opposing team, and I literally jetted off the field. I think they understand now.”
Ingram was offered a police escort to the hospital, but declined. He got to the hospital as soon as he could, and to his delight Berkley had not been born yet.
“I was very happy to see him,” Dani aid. “I was happy for me, but I felt more happy for him. I knew he really wanted to be there.”
About an hour later, Berkley was born.
A few weeks later, the Bulldogs traveled to San Diego for the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. Dani and Berkley came along, capping a memorable couple of months for the Ingrams.
“We took Berkley to all the festivities – Sea World, the zoo,” Pierre said. “She had no idea what was going on. For my wife, it was a perfect opportunity for her to get away. Being a coach’s wife is tough. I give all thanks to her because of the way she manages everything.”
The Ingrams spent a lot of time coming up with potential names for their daughter, and it was Dani who suggested Berkley. Truth be told, Pierre wasn’t too hot on the name at the outset. But now that they have laid down roots in a city with her namesake, the couple couldn’t be happier.
“I think I talked him into it,” Dani said. “I threw it out there at one point when we were talking about names and he said, ‘I don’t know.’ It wasn’t a no but it wasn’t a yes. In the end, we were choosing between a few names and I convinced him that was the name. I don’t know where I saw it or heard it, but it just sounded good.”