Story By Bonnie Bing - Photography By Whitney Pulen
After Jody Adams-Birch has a day of coaching women’s basketball at Wichita State University, working out - especially boxing - and doing administrative work, she’s home keeping up with Ace, her boxer that demands attention, and keeping the house in order. Finally, it’s time for her to flop down in an oversized chair in the corner of her bedroom. She puts her feet on the ottoman and waits for Ace to join her. If it’s still daylight, the light streams in through the windows behind her.
“When I get home I put on old comfortable jeans and an old sweatshirt, sometimes Roy’s, which means it’s oversized, and this is where I land,” she said, putting her hands on the arms of the off-white chair.
On one side of her chair is a basket of books and magazines. On the other is a side table with her mother’s bible on it. “We don’t watch a lot of TV, but I can turn the TV around and watch from here. Mainly sports or the news.”
She says her husband, personal trainer Roy Birch, sits or lies down on the bed. “We talk, usually planning the next day, or what went on during our day,” she said.
On the large piece of furniture that holds the television are two picture frames. One photo is of her grandmother and the other is the picture of a couple that came with the frame. “That frame was a wedding gift, but I still haven’t picked out our wedding pictures. There are so many it is overwhelming! But I am going to do that soon. Guess a picture of us would be better than that couple we don’t know,” she said laughing.
Next to the photos is what she calls her “presidential box.” Yes, from a president of the United States. It was presented to her by George Bush Sr. in 1991. Her team at Tennessee had won the national championship so the team members and coaches dressed up and went to meet the president. Someone suggested they have a “shoot out.”
“There’s a basketball court out to the side of the White House. There I was in my high heels and dress and wide-brimmed hat. I did take my hat off,” she said. “I won, so the president presented that box to me in the oval office. He was a very nice guy and very welcoming to all of us. He talked a lot about excellence, both on the court and in the classroom,” she said.
Folded at the foot of the bed is a well-worn quilt. It’s faded with a few small holes and threads hanging from the edges. “My great grandmother made that quilt. I got it when I was in grade school. I love it.”