Jessie Ivey enters her first season as assistant coach at Bowling Green State University. Named the WBCA NCAA Division II Assistant Coach of the Year last year, Ivey brings a wealth of knowledge from her time at the University of West Florida.
Tell us a little about your background?
I was born and raised in a small town in the Northwest Florida Panhandle called Jay. I decided to stay close to home for college and attended the University of West Florida in Pensacola. I stayed at West Florida throughout my playing career where I earned both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. At the end of my graduate assistant position, UWF hired Stephanie Lawrence Yelton as head coach, and she graciously kept me on her staff. We were able to take the program from “worst to first”, winning the school’s first ever conference championship in women’s basketball.
This past June, I accepted my current position as part of Coach Roos’ staff at Bowling Green State University. I’ve been very fortunate to know good people who have reached out to mentor me as well as give me some incredible opportunities! I could not be happier to be a Falcon!
What do you like to do in your free time?
Family comes first! In our free time, Holly (my partner) and I love to travel. We enjoy being outside kayaking, hiking or exploring anywhere that allows our beautiful golden retriever, Major, to join. Daily, we enjoy listening to good music, reading and finding local coffee shops, as well as enjoying delicious, calorie-loaded food.
When did you know you wanted to be a coach?
To be honest, it’s always been part of my life. Throughout high school I coached a junior pro team of elementary kids. While in college, I coached an AAU travel team during the summer. After graduating college, it was a natural transition for me to stay with the game that has given me so much.
Do you have any pregame rituals?
I thoroughly enjoy having a cold Mountain Dew before the game.
What is/are the most challenging part(s) of your role?
My biggest challenge, day in and day out, is learning to slow down and be in the moment. In coaching, I believe we should enjoy our victories as much as we harp on our losses. During the season, we are constantly thinking ahead on how to best prepare our team for the next opponent. Diligently preparing for the next game is crucial; unfortunately, it can cause us to forget to take the time to enjoy our team’s success.
How do you work through this challenge(s)?
I think the best way to work through these challenges is to surround yourself with great people who love what they do. Your staff and your team are a family. Together, you will ride the high tides as well as the low tides of the season. It is imperative you celebrate the highs so you can make it through the lows — stronger as one.
Briefly state your coaching philosophy. What values are important to you that you try to instill in your student-athletes?
Trust. To me, it is the main factor. You cannot have the trust from your players if you are not honest and do not open yourself to them. I want our players to trust us as a staff, and that takes our players knowing we love them no matter what they do on the basketball court.
On the basketball court, the philosophy is we are going to run and rebound. Those are the two components of the game we can control. In my mind, doing this requires two things: hard work and desire. Rebounding is the only statistic kept on both sides of the floor. George Raveling said it best: “You can dribble too much; you can shoot too much; you can pass too much; but you can never rebound too much.”
What is your favorite memory in your current coaching role thus far?
The best memory so far has been our trip to Cuba. It was such a great experience for the team to see a new culture and way of life. I would personally say my favorite part of that trip was the kid’s clinic we hosted.
What does it mean to you to be recognized as a WBCA “Thirty Under 30” honoree?
I feel truly honored to be named to the “Thirty Under 30” inaugural class. Our “job” has many challenges, and with that comes many rewards. I use quotation marks around the word “job” because I feel blessed to be where I am, doing what I love. To me, it does not feel like I have to go to work every day. Coaching basketball for a living is a privilege. I truly feel blessed. I cannot say that enough.
There are coaches in this class who are very talented; but, even more importantly, they are great ambassadors for what is right in our world. To be mentioned with these individuals whom I admire is a great honor.
Thank you to the WBCA and to all the coaches who continue to grow our game.
The WBCA recognizes annually the WBCA's Thirty Under 30 recipients. This recognition was created to honor thirty of the up-and-coming women's basketball coaches age 30 and under in the sport at all levels of the game. For more information on the award, click here.