CHICKASHA – The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma has named Jennifer Hayden to lead the Drovers’ women’s basketball program as the new head coach.
“She understands the mission of the university,” USAO Athletic Director Brisco McPherson said. “Hopefully, she can bring the program back to where it’s been in the past. We are looking for someone who understands that academics as well as success on the court need to be equal and that’s where her strengths lie.”
Hayden is set to begin at USAO on June 1. She will begin teaching physical education classes in the fall.
“USAO is a place where students can be successful both as a student and an athlete. Academics has always been a major emphasis in my life and career, and USAO offers excellent educational opportunities for student athletes,” Hayden said. “I am very excited about the potential I see at USAO for the women’s basketball program. USAO has proven to excel in other athletic programs, and I believe the women’s basketball program can also become a strong competitive program.”
Hayden comes to USAO directly from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. There, she recruited and coached the 2011-12 American Southwest Conference West Division Newcomer of the Year and had three NCAA Scholar-Athletes. Sul Ross is an NCAA Division III school.
Prior to joining the Lobo staff in 2010, Hayden spent two seasons starting a new program as the head women’s basketball coach at NAIA Division I University of the Southwest in Hobbs, N.M.
Her teams qualified for the Red River Conference Tournament both years she coached at USW.
During her two seasons at USW, Hayden had a RRAC Player of the Year, a two-time NAIA All-America selection, six All-Conference selections and numerous student athletes recognized as scholar athletes by the conference as well as the NAIA.
Dedicated to the classroom as well as the basketball court, Hayden’s 2008-09 and 2009-10 teams were both recognized as NAIA Scholar Teams.
“We all thought she was probably the best fit for us, especially in how she handles academics. She’s really big with academics and her players graduating,” McPherson said. “Also, she is responsible for starting the program from the ground at University of the Southwest, which is a bonus.”
Before her time at the University of the Southwest, Hayden served as the assistant women’s basketball coach and director of student activities at Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa.
She also served as a graduate assistant for athletic administration and sports information at West Texas A&M University and was the assistant women’s basketball coach at Oklahoma Panhandle State University after graduating from there.
Hayden was a physical education instructor at Sul Ross. She taught First Aid & CPR, Wellness & Fitness Assessment and Advanced Weight Lifting & Conditioning. She also was an Adjunct Faculty member from 2008-10 at the University of the Southwest, where she taught Administration of Physical Education & Sport and Accounting I.
Hayden graduated with her master’s of education in administration from West Texas A&M. She earned two bachelor’s degree in accounting and business education from Oklahoma Panhandle University.
Hayden and her husband, Sam, have one daughter, Carlie. Sam Hayden served as an assistant baseball coach at USAO in 2007 and ended up graduating from the university.