BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — After the celebration quieted and the meeting room emptied, California center Chen Yue popped her head around the corner to offer congratulations to her coach.
“Chen, you’re going to be a big sister,” Lindsay Gottlieb told the grinning, 6-foot-7 sophomore — an only child from Beijing.
Gottlieb pulled a big surprise on her players after practice Saturday: She’s pregnant.
Oh baby, what a moment for these women.
“I’m going to be a big sister!” Chen responded, noting she and the baby might even share a May birthday. “I’m so excited!”
Gottlieb has been holding periodic big-picture sessions with players, calling them “Lessons with Geezy.” The theme for Saturday’s post-practice meeting was, fittingly, family.
After the players iced down and grabbed a snack, they were greeted on a big screen by the message “FAMILY … LESSONS WITH GEEZY — NOVEMBER 5, 2016.”
Gottlieb scrolled through baby photos of each player, coach and staff member, and the group guessed who was who. At the end, Gottlieb began describing the youngest “sibling” in the family and showed an ultrasound photo of her own baby on the screen.
The image was met with confusion — until Gottlieb tapped her tummy and got emotional.
“And the next one is the youngest sibling. Can anyone guess the next picture? It is so young. … It’s all your sibling, coming in May!” Gottlieb said, bringing her players out of their seats in celebration.
“I honestly feel to go through this with you this season is going to make it more special,” she added.
The 39-year-old Gottlieb is 13 1/2 weeks along, due May 9 and will welcome the baby with longtime partner Patrick Martin. Her Golden Bears will open the season Friday at Saint Mary’s.
After the sly reveal, Gottlieb got hugs and cheers from players — some stunned, some already suspicious given Gottlieb was sick often during the first trimester. She held a bouquet of flowers in her right hand from director of operations Jill Culbertson and held her left hand over her belly.
“Stop! That’s not funny! Is this a joke?” senior KC Waters hollered from the back row.
“I called it! I called it!” Mi’Cole Cayton yelled, the freshman guard repeatedly pointing at her chest.
Someone else offered an extra-loud “Congratulations!” as they surrounded their coach.
Gottlieb is in her sixth season guiding the Golden Bears and finalized a contract extension last month that takes her through the 2020-21 season by adding three years to her previous deal. She also went out of her way to share her big news with Virginia coach, former boss and dear friend Joanne Boyle; former star players Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray; athletic director Mike Williams and men’s coach Cuonzo Martin.
The news was fully out by Monday, when Gottlieb went on social media to thank everyone for the support and congratulations.
Before an exhibition game Sunday with Westmont, forward Courtney Range stopped Gottlieb as she was talking and grinned.
“Sorry,” the senior said, “I see your bump and I can’t help but smile.”