Women’s Basketball: Jennifer Sullivan to lead team for the first time as FAU head coach

In the season to come, Sullivan plans on building the team into a family and says the best way is by “losing yourself to the people around you.”


Photo courtesy of FAU Athletics.

Brianna Smith, Staff Writer

Arkansas native Jennifer Sullivan has traveled the world of college basketball as a player and assistant coach before landing her very first head coach position with the FAU Lady Owls in sunny Boca Raton, Fla.

Sullivan’s career has taken her to states like Ohio and Tennessee, but working and living in Florida is “pretty exciting” for her.

Though this will be Sullivan’s first year heading a program and team, leading is nothing she is unfamiliar with as she served as team captain during her collegiate years. 

Her passion for the sport drove her to aspirations of playing overseas, but difficulties with her knees prevented her from doing so. However, one closed door just allowed for another to open.

Since then, Sullivan decided to coach the game she loved most. Her mindset of “team” extends far beyond winning games. To her, togetherness is just as vital. 

“I love being a part of a team, everything about it. What it takes to be a part of a team and how you have to learn to get to know people,” Sullivan said. “Be flexible, be open, and everybody will be working towards the same goal.” 

Coming from a large family with a modest income, Sullivan learned the importance of hard work and education. 

“Working hard, doing the best you can everyday with whatever you have, that was important to me and I try to instill that in players that I coach,” Sullivan said. 

Although discipline is necessary for athletes, Sullivan stresses that having fun and enjoying the game are also key components to a successful season. 

In the season to come, Sullivan plans on building the team into a family and says the best way is by “losing yourself to the people around you, losing yourself to your teammates, we like to say that a lot,” Sullivan said.

Her first goal is to get to know the ladies, understanding them and helping them to understand who she is. 

Sullivan says that recruiting is on her to-do list, seeing as a lot of the roster is made up of juniors who will eventually have to be replaced once they graduate and move forward. 

Before accepting the position, she was already familiar with the FAU campus, which only made her even more excited about the opportunity after Jim Jabir’s parting from the program.

“The campus, I remember being really beautiful, the arena was really exciting to me so when the job opened, I was like ‘oh my gosh, that’s a great job,’” Sullivan said.

Some people just know what they are meant to do and for Sullivan, it’s basketball. Influenced by her coaches from her junior year in college, she had been inspired to continue on their path of mentoring and leading young women basketball athletes. 

Now, as a coach herself, she is proud and excited to see how much space is being made for women and women of color in the world of sports.

Embracing all that the FAU women’s basketball program has to offer, and the view of Florida that comes with it, Sullivan is looking forward to a season in paradise. 

“I absolutely love being a part of a team,” Sullivan said.

Bria Smith is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @itsbriiaa.