Mar 28, 2022
Jill Stephens has had a long-standing relationship with Florida Southern College. She received her bachelor’s degree from FSC in Sports Management. She also has a master's degree from the United States Sports Academy. She is one of the driving forces behind the FSC athletic department.
Jill is a ‘95 Moc and currently serves as the Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator, positions she earned in 2018. Prior to becoming an athletic administrator, Jill was the head coach of the volleyball program at FSC.
During her time as head coach, Jill had 15 NCAA tournament appearances, two Sunshine State Conference Championships (2006 and 2017), and a 2017 NCAA South Region Championship. She is credited with the second longest winning streak in FSC history and leading the Mocs to a national runner-up finish in 2017.
Jill says that FSC has made many aesthetic changes since she was a student. She credits Dr. Anne B. Kerr, president of Florida Southern College, for her role in making the campus one of the most beautiful in the country. She noted that many of the campus facilities have been updated. She jokes, “When I played as a student, there was no air conditioning in the gym. It was very toasty.”
The availability of resources is another positive change she is happy about. Team travel has improved since the former student was a member of the volleyball team. She also noted that the caliber of students at FSC has also improved. She points out that, in many cases, students are coming in with higher test scores than in previous years.
With all the positive changes, Jill was quick to point out one thing that has remained constant is the people at FSC are amazing. She states, “The campus is very much still about family and welcoming.” She points out that athletic success is still important at FSC. She proudly states, “On the athletic side, the championship tradition is still strong.”
When asked what led her to return to FSC after graduating, she said she came back because her mentor, Lois Webb, asked her to become her assistant. Webb’s invitation included the possibility of Jill eventually taking over Webb’s position, which she ultimately did. Jill speaks highly of Webb stating, “She paved the way, especially for women’s athletics.” Jill proudly displays a photo of her FSC mentors, which includes Webb, on her desk. Having mentors like Webb, paired with her love of Lakeland and FSC, was enough to entice Jill to return to her alma mater as a staff member.
In her position as a coach previously, and now as an athletic administrator, Jill wants to pass her knowledge on to FSC students. She recognizes that college students are highly impressionable. Drawing from her faith, she wants to be a role model and to empower them.
Jill says she misses the interaction of being a coach, especially on game days. She also misses the excitement of championship games. However, being an athletic administrator allows her to be involved with all student-athletes instead of just one team. According to Jill, she is a “coaches’ coach”, so her current position is satisfying. A favorite part of her job is being a resource for coaches and helping them figure out how to be successful.
Working with former students on her staff is extremely rewarding for Jill. Bethany Besancenez was on the FSC volleyball team under Jill’s leadership, graduating in 2019. Now she works as the Director of Compliance and Academic Services and oversees the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC). Jill says she wants the SAAC to be the pulse of the athletic department.
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