Jennifer Jacobs, in her first year as a college head coach, is more than halfway through her first season. Her Augustana (S.D.) Vikings are among the nation’s 20 ranked teams and in the top half of the NSIC Conference.
“This is a senior-led group, a good group to be around,” Jacobs told the MSR last Saturday when the St. Paul native brought her team to town and played Concordia-St. Paul. Augustana had won their last eight matches before they fell to the host Golden Bears in four sets.
It was our first time seeing Jacobs in the first chair. We have seen her on the sidelines before, but as an assistant coach at Augsburg University in Minneapolis for the past few seasons. Last Saturday it appeared that she has made a nice transition in moving over one chair.
Jacobs exhibited a calm demeanor whether sitting or standing, even during a tense fourth set where her club fought off six match points in hopes of forcing a fifth and deciding stanza. Afterwards, Jacobs didn’t seem too bothered, at least on the outside.
“I inherited a great group,” the head coach said in praise of the team, which boasts five seniors and four juniors. “They want to win and know how to win. I had to come in and work a little bit.”
Jacobs, a former Augsburg assistant athletic director, has been featured in our multi-part “Diversity Conundrum” series on diversity in athletic administration positions.
Inside Concordia’s Gangelhoff Center last Saturday, Jacobs stood out in more ways than one, including being among the small number of Black women head volleyball coaches at the three NCAA divisions — both Concordia and Augustana are Division II schools. Neither squad last weekend had any Black players either on the court or on the bench.
Blacks and other females of color are indeed playing volleyball, Jacobs stressed. You can see diversity on such squads as Texas and Minnesota, both of which “are doing well right now with kids of color,” the Vikings coach pointed out. “They are out there.”
Jacobs added that she hopes to improve that aspect of her team as time goes on. “We want to grow the game from the inside out. There are really good volleyball players of color. Once you see people in the gym who look like you, [playing] in the game, coaching, whatever, it makes you feel more comfortable.”
She hopes that other coaches will see this as well, “coaches who are willing to go and have critical conversations [to bring in] women of color at these predominately White institutions.”
Globe-tracking the Lynx
Sylvia Fowles (China) is among nine Minnesota Lynx players playing on foreign teams this off-season.
In recent action: Renee Montgomery (France) had two double-figure scoring performances (10 points and 14 points). Temi Fagbenie averaged 10 points in two games for CCC Polkowice (Poland). Alexis Jones had 25 points last week for Al-Qazeres (Spain).
Montgomery, Fagbenie and Anna Cruz (Dynamo Kursk, Russia) are in scheduled games on Wednesday, October 25.
As the Big Ten Network (BTN) celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, don’t expect the top-heavy men’s sports network to include women sports with more than quick cameos on the network’s 10 look-back shows that debuted August 30 and run through November 6.
Next week we’ll show BTN’s gender-imbalanced college basketball scheduling.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.