by, Caroline McCarthy & Kelly Kennedy, Staff Writer & Asst. Production Editor
Jenna Jordan ‘23 sat down with The Quadrangle to discuss her transition to Manhattan College, training under COVID-19 restrictions, and her upcoming season with the women’s basketball team.
Jordan spent her first year of college basketball at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. She is currently pursuing a degree in special education with a concentration in psychology and science. After college, she hopes to follow in the footsteps of her mother as a special education administrator.
The Quadrangle: How long have you been playing basketball and what made you fall in love with the sport?
Jenna Jordan: I have been playing basketball since like first grade. And honestly, my grandfather had a huge impact on my love of it. I really didn’t want to play after a certain time in my life, I think around seventh grade. And I kind of just had to sit down with him and he basically had to tell me “you’re good at it Jenna.” He would come to all my games, and he passed away. So I think a major part of me, continuing to play is for him because he loved to watch me play.
TQ: What drew you to transfer to Manhattan College for basketball? Can you describe the student-athlete experience so far?
JJ: Yes, my previous school didn’t have a special education major. And when I realized I wanted to do that, I decided it would be in my best interest to leave. And I chose Manhattan because I already knew some of the girls on the team because I went to high school with them. Some of them I played AAU with. I’ve been to games, I live super close. So I think it was just more of a comfort level. I’ve already felt comfortable without even having to step on campus. And I just honestly trusted Coach Vulin from the day that I first talked to her. And so far, the student-athlete experience is definitely different because of COVID. I think it’s been going well, and we’re just super busy with things like getting tested and making sure we follow protocols and all that kind of stuff.
TQ: How has COVID-19 affected your growth as a person and a basketball player, especially since you’re going through this transition?
JJ: As a person, I think COVID allowed me to find myself. It gave me the time to reflect on my life, hence why I transferred. It let me really see what I wanted to do with my future, and who I wanted to be as a person with all the time that I had to think. And as a basketball player, I think you just have to have, we always talk about in practice a “championship mentality.” So I think we just have to stick together to get through the tough times. We don’t know what tomorrow will hold. So we just have to put all our effort into whatever we’re doing at the moment because we don’t know when it will be our last day like our season was cut short last year.
TQ: How did you continue to work on your game when COVID restrictions prohibited you from practicing with a team?
JJ: So I packed up my stuff and went home. And lucky enough, I have a trainer at home who would FaceTime me and allowed me to come in just while he was doing zoom calls. So I was still able to workout — like doing running and lifting. But I wasn’t able to play basketball because the rims were taken down off the hoops and everything like that. So it was just more of me, it was a mental struggle because basketball is kind of like my outlet for stress and everything. But, you know, we have to adjust to what’s in front of us. And I just had to move forward. And just try and just keep in shape and control what I can control. Because you can’t control what you can’t control.
TQ: Do you expect your role on the team to differ from what you encountered at St. Francis?
JJ: Yes. So at St. Francis, I was a freshman who started and played a lot of minutes; I scored, I rebounded. I think my idea of coming here was to just honestly be the role player that they need and I’m really not looking for any specific role. I just want to help the team as much as I can because obviously at the end of the day our goal is to win a championship.
TQ: Can you describe the team dynamic and the camaraderie of the team?
JJ: So we’re super close. I could rely on them for anything. And you could tell that on the court. I don’t know, I’ve been on many teams in my life and this is probably the closest team I’ve ever been on. We’re honestly each other’s best friends. We look to each other for everything. We sit in our rooms and do homework at night. Like it’s more than basketball for us, which is really nice.
TQ: How has your time with Coach Vulin been so far? Can you describe her as a coach?
JJ: She’s like a coach and a mom all in one. She’s super, super loving, but we want to win a championship and she’s pushed us to do our best. She’ll call us out if we’re not running hard enough. She’ll call us out for doing the wrong thing. On the other hand, you can see she’s a mom and she really does love us and care for us. I honestly love having her as a coach because she really shows up and shows us that women could do so much in life and that you just need to put yourself out there. She’s a great role model for me, especially because I think sometimes I lack confidence personally, but then seeing her it makes me want to just do better.
TQ: What are you most looking forward to this season?
JJ: Obviously, we want to win. That’s what I’m excited for. But also, I’m just excited to play with this group of girls.
TQ: So do you have any personal goals for the season?
JJ: I just want to obviously get better and to do anything I can to help my team. I’m one of those people that if you need me to rebound, I’ll rebound. If you need me to score, I’ll score. I am a team first person, so whatever to win I’ll do it.
TQ: Last year was the first season the MAAC Basketball Tournament was held in Atlantic City, and it will be back there again. Although the experience was cut short for some of your current teammates, have they shared with you what the atmosphere was like in AC?
JJ: They said it’s so much fun down there but it was super sad for them when it got cut short. I, unfortunately, wasn’t on the team so I have no idea how that feels like because St. Francis does it differently. They said there’s a lot of energy and it’s really just a fun time.
TQ: Do you have any pre game rituals or superstitions? Are you big into things like music or meditation before a game?
JJ: I feel like it changes every season. Last season, I had a really good game, and I would eat that same meal before every single game. One thing that’s all I’ve always done is I wear my hair in a bun.
TQ: What did you do to keep busy during the quarantine?
JJ: Obviously, we were coming right out of the season so I didn’t have a lot of time at home at all. We got a new dog which was really nice.
TQ: What does being a Jasper student-athlete mean to you?
JJ: I just feel like we hold ourselves to a different standard here. We want to be the best in everything we do and I just think we respect others. We love each other and we care for each other.