My Coaching Journey Jenn Noon, Fairleigh Dickinson University - Florham

Jenn Noon just finished her final season as the head field hockey coach at Fairleigh Dickinson University – Florham where she led the program to a post-season berth in eight of her nine seasons. Now, she finds herself leading a different program — Jenn was named director of athletics at FDU in June 2018, the fourth AD in the department’s history.

She sat down to tell us about her coaching journey — from a part-time assistant, to head coach, to athletic director — while giving some wise advice to young coaches and coaches considering a career in administration.

Question (NFHCA): First off, congratulations on your new position as FDU-Florham’s new athletic director! How is it going?

Answer (Jenn Noon): Thank you very much. I cannot believe I am closing in on my one-year anniversary as the director of athletics. In my first year I wanted to focus on getting to know my staff and all of our student-athletes. I wanted everyone involved with Devils Athletics to feel valued and to build our environment based on three premises: open communication, accountability, and charisma.

I am absolutely blessed to have an incredible staff that shares my vision: preparing and empowering our student-athletes for the future.

Q (NFHCA): You’re also the chair of the NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship Committee, how are you balancing your relationship with our sport while also caring for all of the other sports at FDU-Florham?

A (JN): I will say it all comes down to time management, prioritizing, and having a great staff. I look back to the fall and think “Wow, you were crazy.” I am not sure how I coached my final season, chaired the NCAA Field Hockey Championship Committee, and was a first-year AD. But, it’s just like we tell our student-athletes, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

Q (NFHCA): Since this interview is about your coaching journey, why don’t we back up a bit? How did your coaching journey begin?

A (JN): My coaching journey began during my college days at Rutgers University under my former head coach, Ann Petracco. Coach Petracco ran a very successful summer camp, Competitor’s Edge, and I had the opportunity to coach camp every summer — that’s when I fell in love with paying it forward. I also say that coaching is the best way to learn and I truly think that it aided in my progression as a player.

After college, I hit a crossroads and was unsure of my next chapter, that’s when Coach Petracco reached out and offered me a position as a part-time assistant coach at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Fast forward 15 years, and I succeeded Coach Petracco as the head field hockey coach and became the owner of Competitor’s Edge Field Hockey Camps.

If it wasn’t for Ann Petracco recruiting me to attend Rutgers, play under her guidance, and offering me a position on her staff at FDU, I would not be the woman I am today nor in the position I currently hold.

I always say, “a good coach can change a game, a great coach can change a life” — thank you Ann!

Jenn and her coach, Ann Petracco, in Florida last May. Jenn visited and thanked Ann for taking a chance on her.

Q (NFHCA): What prompted your move from coaching into athletic administration?

A (JN): When I first started at FDU, I realized that I just loved college athletics. I lived for building relationships and transforming people’s lives. When I started my career as a head coach, I loved motivating my players to be the best they could be in all aspects of life. As the years progressed, I came to the realization that I wanted to coach the coaches and coach different types of student-athletes. I live for the late-night phone calls and daily office visits from my coaches asking for advice, needing a vent session, or bragging about the big win they had the night before. It just makes my day when I pass a student-athlete on their way to class and put a smile on their face because I asked them about practice or their game. I am beyond blessed and would not change a thing about my career path.

Q (NFHCA): What advice would you give coaches who are considering a move into administration?

A (JN): The best advice I can give is to never say no early in your career. You never know whose path you will cross, so be outgoing, introduce yourself, ask questions, and follow through with what you said you were going to do. It’s all about relationships, balance, and fairness. Don’t have favorites, treat everyone equally, and be open to advice. To this day I will be the first to say I do not know everything however I am willing to reach out to those that are experts in certain areas to assist with making smart decisions.

Also, if you have the opportunity, attend the Women Leaders in College Sports Institute for Administrative Advancement. It is because of the relationships that I created during the event, that I was able to land a spot on the National Field Hockey Committee. The experience is life-changing and I believe that aided in my success in administration.

Jenn and her FDU team celebrating her 100th win.

Q (NFHCA): Considering your new perspective, what tips would you give young coaches who are just starting their coaching journey?

A (JN): As an administrator, I believe in investing in yourself — do your best to attend professional development opportunities — WeCoach, NACA Coaching Symposium, NCAA Leadership Academies — and be involved in SAAC.

From a coaching perspective, assess the situation, identify the outcomes, and make a decision based on who it benefits the most. And always be honest. It is OK to make mistakes, own it, no one is perfect. Your student-athletes, assistants, co-workers, etc. will respect you even more if you own up to your mistakes.

Q (NFHCA): What are you going to miss about coaching?

A (JN): I get this question often and I have to say GAMEDAY! I always loved gameday, I loved the rituals, pregame speeches, warm-up music (even though as the years progressed, I didn’t know as many of the songs), halftimes, and post-game celebrations.

I am looking forward to passing the torch onto my successor — Maura Johnston. I see so many qualities in Coach Mo that I had as a young coach and I am confident she is going to lead the program to new heights.

Q (NFHCA): Is there anything else you’d like to share?

A (JN): It is has been an absolute pleasure being a part of the NFHCA for the past 15 years and I will always be an advocate for growing the game of field hockey. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Jenn Goodrich and the rest of the NFHCA Executive Board for all their time and effort.

Thank you Jenn! If you enjoyed Jenn's coaching journey, check out other articles featuring head coach at the College of the Holy Cross, Lindsay Jackson, and head coach at Queens University of Charlotte, Brandi Kist.

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