United States Sports Academy alumna Jennifer Saylor, a successful volleyball coach with experience at both the high school and collegiate levels, has been named head coach of the women’s volleyball program at Rockford University in Rockford, Ill.
Saylor previously spent five years as head volleyball coach at both Morton High School in Morton, Ill., and the Capital Volleyball Academy in Madison, Wisc. She also served as head volleyball coach for four years at Lake Forest College in Illinois as well as six years at Illinois College. She has also coached softball at the collegiate level.
Saylor earned dual Master of Sports Science degrees in sports medicine and sports coaching from the Academy in 2001 after previously earning a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine from Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio.
“I met so many great people at the United States Sports Academy who ended up being fantastic resources for me throughout my career,” Saylor said. “It is so great being around so many people who have the same career goals and ambitions as you and people who understand your passion for sports and fitness.
“The management classes have assisted me with operating a budget, with marketing for recruiting, and with travel organization and preparation. Some other classes taught me about types of leadership, teaching styles, and practice planning.”
Saylor’s Rockford Regents compete in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) in the NCAA’s Division III.
“The team last season had one win and we only have four players returning,” Saylor said. “I have a lot of work to do to create a successful team and a new team culture. I am currently searching for a graduate assistant coach to be a part of this exciting re-building process.”
Saylor has been involved in sports for as long as she can remember, from being a multi-sport athlete in junior high and high school, to playing middle-hitter and being named a captain for the volleyball team at Heidelberg University. As an undergraduate student at Heidelberg, Saylor worked as an athletic trainer for all of the university’s sports teams. She also coached for the Black Swamp Volleyball Club, a club team affiliated with the Ohio Valley Region of USA Volleyball.
“I worked volleyball and basketball camps as a counselor and worked hockey, football, soccer and baseball as an athletic trainer,” she said. “I absolutely have a passion for sports and fitness. This grew my passion for coaching.”
“I like the process of creating your team, being a counselor and mentor for your players, and being an educator,” Saylor said. “I like putting together game plans and re-evaluating the plan after every match to make improvements. I also love the strength training and jump training component.
“I feel with coaching I am able to be a part of the student’s whole picture, from coming to campus to leaving and becoming successful adults in their career choice. It is so fun to see my future athletes now coaching and being a part of this challenging career. I did enjoy athletic training and sports medicine and still love to read about it and stay up to date on new practices, but I enjoy being in the gym competing so much more.”
Saylor said her career goal is to one day be an athletic director at the collegiate level, where she said she would enjoy the organization, administration and leadership aspects of the role. So far, she said she is proud of the things her teams have accomplished over the years.
“The softball program that I took over at Illinois College had only four wins the year prior to my start. When I left six years later, the team was regionally ranked and fighting for a conference championship. The teams during this time allowed for me to win three coach of the year honors.
“Another team moment that I am very proud of is my last year at Lake Forest. Again, when I started the team had seven wins and did not have a shot at making the conference tournament. By my last year were in the conference tournament battling in the championship match.”
Saylor said she took most of her Academy classes in a condensed period over the summer, so she was able to maintain her career while furthering her education.
“I liked how it was condensed over the summer so I was able to go back to my career be able to work in my profession and get experience and apply the lessons that I learned,” she said.