Athletics family adds two rookies to roster

Women’s soccer Head Coach Michelyne Pinard and field hockey Head Coach Alix Barrale ’93 have recently expanded Williams’ athletic family with the births of their new babies. Barrale and her husband Bill Barrale, head baseball coach and football offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at the College, welcomed Asher Raymond Barrale into the world on Feb. 22 at 1:43 a.m. Barrale’s close friend Pinard and David Johnson ’71, associate dean and dean of first-year students, said hello to Elle Johnson Pinard just five days later on Feb. 27.

Asher was six pounds, eight ounces and 19.5 inches long, while Elle was eight pounds, 10 ounces and 21 inches long. “I think her feet are already bigger than mine … and a few of the players’!” Pinard said.

When it came to naming the babies, both coaches had big decisions to make. “Asher means ‘most blessed and happy,’” Barrale said. “Bill thought of it. The kids loved the name and hounded me daily about choosing [it]. They referred to him as Asher throughout my pregnancy even though I had not agreed to the name.” Pinard spent five days trying on names before Elle stuck. “This decision really threw me for a loop,” she said. She and Johnson were choosing between Elle Johnson Pinard and Davey Jane Pinard. “Naming her was more complicated than we thought,” Pinard said.

Both coaches expressed how great it was to go through their pregnancies together. “[Neither] Alix nor I shared that we were pregnant until [the] fall … It has been so fun to share the journey with someone like Alix. Alix, having been through this, was really helpful in little nuggets of advice, and I can’t wait for Asher and Elle to hang out!” Pinard said. Barrale shared this sentiment, saying “I was thrilled for [Michelyne]! It has been fun going through our pregnancies together.”

While being fall coaches presented challenges for the new moms, both Pinard and Barrale felt that they benefitted from the timing. “Field hockey was great for me because I was able to focus on the season and not my growing belly,” Barrale said. At first, Pinard was worried: “I wasn’t sure how I was going to react physiologically or emotionally to all the hormones,” she said. “Much to my surprise, I think it actually made me a better coach … I was more even emotionally.”

Both the field hockey and women’s soccer teams were overjoyed by the news of the babies. “The team responded to the excitement of the baby with such joy,” Pinard said. “I feel like Elle has 50 big sisters. It has truly been an amazing experience to feel so supported by the women’s soccer family.” The field hockey team reacted to Barrale’s announcement in a similar manner, and the team is excited for Asher to join them at practice in the fall and become a part of their field hockey family.

Barrale has three children already, Maggie, Jude and Lily, who are thrilled to have a little brother. “They want to be with him all the time!” Barrale said, adding that Bill and Jude are excited for another boy to even the playing field in the house. She and Bill met at work, and athletics have always been present in their relationship. “We first got to know each other playing paddle tennis,” Barrale said.

This is Pinard’s first child, and she confessed that she did not have much baby experience prior to the birth. “Before now, I’ve never been a big baby person. I didn’t grow up babysitting at all, and until this week I had never changed a diaper ever,” Pinard said. “I got a lesson from one of the nurses and then decided that the next time she needed to be changed, I would go for it! I was all ready, and as I was changing her she decided to pee all over me … so that was my first diaper changing experience! I am sure to wear goggles now!” Although the first night home was a little overwhelming, Johnson and Pinard are adjusting quickly. “I’m so lucky to have such a great partner in Dave. He is as amazing with her as he is with the students: patient, funny, thoughtful … just amazing,” Pinard said.

Pinard also commented on Elle’s future. “I want her to be passionate about something,” she said. “In some ways it would be fun if it wasn’t soccer, if it was something I know nothing about so she can own it and I can just be supportive and learn through her. So my goal is to expose her to everything and see what she loves. My hope is that she is as passionate about something as my athletes are about soccer and our team.”