- Todd Needle/Daily
By Daniel Feldman, Daily Sports Writer
Published September 19, 2013
Wearing a drenched purple workout tee, Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico walked into her office Tuesday sweating profusely. She had just completed her 142nd straight day of working out for at least 30 minutes.
The streak began after last season ended when Barnes Arico and her staff had a talk about how important physical fitness, health and setting an example for the players are.
“We always want to be in great shape,” Barnes Arico said. “We always want to eat right. We always want to take care of ourselves. I think it’s part of our responsibility as coaches and as staff to set the example.”
To emphasize the point, Barnes Arico and company devised a competition set with rules and regulations.
“It has to be 30 minutes of cardio,” Barnes Arico said. “But if you decide to walk, because sometimes you need to vary it up, you have to double the time for a walk. And if you really want to change, you can play tennis or basketball or volleyball, which we’ve done before too, but that has to be about an hour in duration.”
The competition began at the beginning of May with all women’s basketball staff members involved. The contest’s first victim was the youngest member of the staff, assistant coach Joy McCorvey. Following her, others started dropping out, including assistant coach Chester Nichols.
Now almost five months later, just two remain — Barnes Arico and women’s basketball director of operations, Amy Mulligan.
While Barnes Arico, who has run the New York City Marathon, was seen as a favorite to go the longest, Mulligan competed somewhat as of a dark-horse candidate to last this long.
“(She) thought 365 days was a good number to try to achieve,” Barnes Arico explained of Mulligan, who “didn’t work out prior to this.” “I said ‘let’s start with three.’ Then maybe six. And then maybe nine.”
Having to put in 20-hour days during the summer with teen camps and recruiting visits in the summer, Barnes Arico faced a dilemma: when would she have time to work out?
“You really have to make a commitment to being up at five in the morning or staying up super late to get it in,” Barnes Arico said. “It’s difficult in our profession to be able to do it. But Amy and I have managed.”
Finding time to work out hasn’t been the only issue that Barnes Arico has had to deal with during the streak. A couple of times, the issue has been dealing with inclement weather or not having access to a workout room. As a result, Barnes Arico had to use creativity to get a workout in.
One such instance was the day the team flew home after spending 10 days in Europe.
“We left at 6:30 in the morning and we were out running the streets of Italy,” Barnes Arico said. “We did stairs, we did push-ups, and we did sit-ups.”
Though cardio has comprised the bulk of the staff’s workouts, especially for Barnes Arico, there are some loopholes that have allowed for Mulligan to keep her streak going, like golf.
“I have yet to do that,” a smiling Barnes Arico said. “But that’s what Amy seems to do on Sundays, I don’t have four open hours in my day.”
That sentiment was especially true on Wednesday with Barnes Arico scheduled to fly out of Ann Arbor at 7:30 a.m. for a recruiting trip. Knowing what was planned for the day – recruiting non-stop until her 11p.m. flight that night – Barnes Arico said she’d “probably be up (Wednesday) morning at four” to work out before arriving at the airport at 6:30 a.m.
While a winner will eventually come out from the competition, it’s hard to tell who that person will be, especially with Mulligan’s latest epiphany.
“(Amy) told me the other day, it’s no longer a competition — it’s a lifestyle,” Barnes Arico said. “So that’s kind of what I was trying to achieve and now I feel I can never fall off because I have to keep Amy going.”