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Spartans of UD - Jenna Kotas (C'15)

By University Relations Staff

Spartans of UD highlights what makes the University of Dubuque special - the people.

Jenna Kotas (C'15), a former Spartans women's basketball player, has been named four times to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Thirty Under 30 and was honored in 2023 as the WBCA D-II Assistant Coach of the Year. Kotas, who was a sport marketing and management major, is the assistant women's basketball coach at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio. She helped the Ashland's women's basketball team to the 2022-2023 NCAA Division II national championship.

What inspired you to get into coaching?

"It wasn't until I transferred to UD that I thought about coaching as a career. My former coaches, Mark Noll and Kelsey Duoss-Steinhagen, and the relationships I had with them really intrigued me to get into college coaching full time. I knew one day that my playing days were going to be over, but I couldn't imagine being done with the game of basketball forever. The game of basketball gave me so many memories, experiences, and chances to make a difference in the communities I have played in; I wanted to make sure that the career I chose, I was able to do the same."

How have you been able to take what you learned from your time at the University of Dubuque to your position as an assistant women's basketball coach at Ashland University?

"During my time as a student-athlete, I learned two things that will continue to stick with me throughout my coaching career:

"No. 1 - Build relationships. When I was at UD, I was introduced to and met a lot of different people from different departments and communities. Coaching at Ashland, where the Ashland community loves women's basketball, connecting and building relationships with those within and outside of the program, I believe sets you up for success in the long run. The more people you build a relationship with and have in your corner, the better off you will be.

"No. 2 - The game of basketball gives you a platform to make a difference. Whether you are a coach or a student-athlete, you are able to show the younger generation what it looks like to have fun and work hard while playing basketball. Play for something that's bigger than just the game, play for your family, your teammates, etc., and also volunteer and give back to the community."

What was it like to be named four times to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Thirty Under 30 and to be honored as the WBCA D-II Assistant Coach of the Year?

"It's always a great feeling when your hard work and the dedication to something you love to do is recognized. Earning my fourth Thirty Under 30 award, Assistant COTY, and winning a National Tournament - you can't get much better than that! Truly, earning these awards prove to me that this career path I chose was the right choice. In the long run, I want to love what I do while also being able to mentor and build relationships with the student-athletes I get to coach."

What advice do you have for current Spartans?

"Your time as a Spartan goes by quickly; enjoy the moment, get involved, explore Dubuque - it's a really fun town, and ask questions when need be!"

In your opinion, what makes the University of Dubuque unique?

"One thing I will never forget is the people and community at UD. From professors to coaches to administrators, everyone supports everyone and wants this university to succeed in their time at UD, and they still support you once you graduate. Also, the growth at UD is something you don't usually see at smaller campuses. From the athletic programs being added, to facilities being built, to the different degrees students can choose from, you are truly getting the college experience."