Family First: Myers Steps Away from Coaching
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After 14 seasons as Kansas rowing’s assistant and associate head coach, Jennifer Myers made a difficult – but admirable – decision. She has decided to step away from coaching.
“I feel like as a coach you want to do whatever you can for the kids that you have,” Myers said. “I felt like I wasn’t satisfying everyone as much as I needed to. I need to give as much attention to my own children as I was the student-athletes.”
Myers, who was promoted to the associate head coach position prior to the 2008-09 season, helped lead several novice boats to top finishes. In 2014, the Novice Eight boat captured the Conference-USA Championship and second place the year before that. She also has tallied several Knecht Cup victories, one of the most prestigious regattas in collegiate rowing. She admits that the accolades were nice but not as important as the relationships Myers built with the student-athletes.
“I think I’ll miss the process the most,” Myers said. “How the freshmen go from knowing nothing about rowing when they arrive, to how we really got somewhere. I’ll miss the relationships a ton, but the relationships I’ve established are relationships that will continue on. That’s the fun part about my job. I would have someone come in that was new and then as they grow up I can be their friend or their mentor towards the future. I’m excited about creating those relationships outside of rowing, too.”
Myers’ career at Kansas began in 1996 as a Jayhawk student-athlete. After finishing up her rowing tenure in 1998, she interned with KU for the fall before being named a full-time assistant the following season. Since 2000, Myers and head coach Rob Catloth have built not only a program, but a great relationship.
“I think we worked so long and so well together that it’s going to be a little bit of uncharted waters for me, but also you have to look forward to a new staff and going on from here,” Catloth said. “It’s going to be hard to not have that person you can always rely on, the person that you know will always be there in any situation. That’s something I’ve definitely grown used to and something I’ll miss. She did a really great job of taking care of things with the team and helping me out as a head coach to run a good program.”
Myers said she and her husband James both worked crazy schedules, joining forces to be both good professionals and good parents to their sons, Koen and Hudsen. The family will remain in Lawrence after Myers’ departure, having fallen in love with the community. On the rowing front, Catloth and Myers went through several situations together as not only coaches but parents, as well. Catloth offered advice to Myers often.
“One of the things a coach said to me one time, and I’ve often said to her, is that these athletes are going to be around here for four years and then they graduate and move on. Your kids are going to be there forever – just always make sure you’re not neglecting your own family. There are too many coaches that, 20 years later, they don’t even know their own kids.”
Catloth credits Myers for putting in the effort, blood, sweat and tears to do anything she could to help the KU program grow. She helped KU land new facilities, including the state-of-the-art Kansas Boathouse. She was also instrumental in making incoming freshmen feel a part of the KU family.
“I feel like Kansas rowing has been a family for me,” Myers said. “Athletics has always been a family approach so it’s going to mean a lot that I’m not going to have those new relationships. But I’m also comforted leaving with the family that I have. It’ll be nice to be a part of the past. I think we’d all agree about the impact we’ve had on each other’s lives – I didn’t have as much impact on them as they’ve had on me.”
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