Entering her fourth year on the Northern Illinois volleyball staff, Kirstine Jensen has made her mark on the NIU volleyball program, leading to her recent promotion to associate head coach after serving as an assistant coach during her first three years with the Huskies.
"I think this title is long over due for Kirstine," said Gooden. "Since day one, she has brought a wealth of experience and energy to our program. This title is just a way to show how important she is to our program."
Jensen has made her mark through great coaching and recruiting as she has brought some of the best talent to DeKalb leading to the 2006 Mid-American Conference West Division title, the Huskies' first since 2001. Don't count NIU head coach Ray Gooden among the surprised.
"Kirstine has so many great qualities that you dream of having in a person that you put in a position of leadership," Gooden said. "She has the unique ability to cultivate players to be successful on and off the court. It's no wonder that success has followed her wherever she's gone."
Jensen serves as the Huskie recruiting coordinator, while charged with the duties of coaching the outside hitters, blocking and defense.
Jensen came to DeKalb after spending three seasons as an assistant under former Northern Illinois head coach Todd Kress at Florida State University. While in Tallahassee, Jensen served as Kress' recruiting and travel coordinator while helping lead the Seminoles to a pair of winning seasons and an NCAA Tournament appearance in her first year with the program (2002).
Prior to her stint at FSU, Jensen spent two seasons as an assistant for Mike Lessinger at Mid-American Conference rival Ohio University. It didn't take long for OU to feel Jensen's impact either as the Bobcats won the MAC East Division for the first time in school history during her first season on campus (2000). Ohio went 20-11 that season and set the foundation for a dominant run through the MAC (back-to-back-to-back league titles in 2003, 2004 and 2005). A pair of Jensen products led the way for the Bobcats in 2003 MAC Player of the Year, Laura Hageman and 2004 MAC Player of the Year, Briana Adamovsky.
"Kirstine is just a great recruiter," Gooden added. "Her work ethic and personality are infectious. She's got great experience teaching different styles of volleyball and her past experiences as a player and coach will have a very positive effect on our team."
Both Hageman and Adamovsky also earned American Volleyball Coaches Association Honorable Mention All-America honors after Jensen's departure, but by that time, the 32-year-old was already busy helping her next group of players achieve prominence on the national stage. Florida State's Amanda Santos joined Adamovsky on the 2004 AVCA honorable mention All-America squad, while Cassie McLaughlin was named the 2003 Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year.
Jensen's coaching roots have always remained at Northern Illinois. That's where Jensen got her first shot at sitting on the bench as a volunteer assistant for former Huskie head coach Pete Waite in 1998.
All the Huskies did that year was go 27-7 and earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament where they promptly knocked off, ironically, Florida State (10-15, 15-11, 15-10, 15-12) in the first round.
As a player Jensen was no stranger to the NCAA Tournament either, leading Ohio State to the NCAA Final Four as a junior in 1995. Jensen showed the ability to succeed on and off the court, becoming a four-time scholar-athlete for the Buckeyes prior to graduating magna cum laude from OSU with a bachelor's degree in speech and hearing science in 1997.