P-P soccer coach Scanlon expects to wrap up interim athletic director duties by fall

A woman in a blue shirt and hat sits in a chair and smiles, surrounded by soccer players wearing orange and green.
Head coach Jennifer Scanlon led the P-P women’s soccer team to its best season in program history this past fall, while simultaneously serving as the P-P interim athletic director. (Courtesy: Pomona-Pitzer Athletics)

Interim Athletic Director Jennifer Scanlon has had to split her time between coaching the Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team and heading the entire athletic department this year, but help is on the way.

She said P-P is working to find her a full-time replacement, and does not expect to be AD by the fall.

Scanlon, who led the women’s soccer team to its best season in program history last fall while also serving as AD, said definitively Monday that she is “not a candidate” for the permanent position and has “no intention to pursue” it.

The idea of Scanlon serving an additional year — or longer — as interim AD “hasn’t crossed anybody’s mind because there is no expectation that it is going to play out that way,” Scanlon added.

Associate dean of the college David Tanenbaum would not provide details regarding the ongoing search process. However, a job recruitment post remains active on the site for Spelman Johnson, a higher education headhunting firm.

Prior to taking the AD job — which Lesley Irvine vacated following the 2018-19 school year to become the AD at Division III Colorado College — Scanlon guided P-P women’s soccer to three SCIAC championships and a spot in the NCAA Tournament in 2005, 2015 and 2016, when the Hens advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in Sagehen history.

During her first semester as interim AD in fall 2019, Scanlon was on double-duty, running the department and leading the team to a new program record — the team ended its near-perfect season with a loss in the Final Four, two wins from an NCAA title.

However, the road to this success was not easy — Scanlon had to address many challenges, including juggling her time and numerous tasks such as budgeting and logistical planning, while also trying to prioritize the team.

Because she has been serving in both positions, “there are just some pieces where I just can’t be as available as [the previous AD] was,” Scanlon said. “There is an understanding within the department and the rest of the coaches and staff that we are all in it together to make it successful. We are all figuring out ways to make it work.”

The athletic department as a whole, including the women’s soccer team, seems to be thriving under Scanlon’s leadership. Her time commitments haven’t had any immediate negative impact on P-P’s performance — multiple sports, in addition to soccer, have enjoyed standout seasons since she took over.

“Most importantly, we wanted to make sure that our student athletes weren’t feeling the impact, and that their experience was still top-notch,” Scanlon said.

Scanlon emphasized that coaching remains her first priority and biggest passion. 

“It’s the same for you guys as student-athletes,” Scanlon said. “When it’s that time to set all the other stuff aside and go be around your teammates and play the sport you love, it’s your release. So for me, it’s very similar actually.”

When Scanlon agreed to fulfill both roles, David Nolan was promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach to help keep the team running smoothly and support Scanlon while she adjusted to both duties.

The team embraced Nolan for his laid-back and easy-going personality, as well as the “tactical, technical soccer things” that he teaches the team in drills, according to Helena Robinowitz PO ’22. His increased responsibility added a fresh voice and has helped remind the players why they love the game. 

“[Coach Jen’s] role has not been diminished in any way — she just has more help,” Robinowitz said. “Last year [Nolan’s] role wasn’t as important because he was just the assistant coach, but now he is there for all of our meetings and gives us more feedback since he makes more of the decisions, which has actually helped our team a lot.”

Scanlon foresees a future dedicating her time to coaching the P-P women’s soccer team.  

“I’ve been the coach since the day I graduated from college and have played soccer since I was five. It’s been part of my life for 40 years, and it’s the sport that I love,” Scanlon said in a previous interview with TSL. “Coaching the program here is something I’m really proud of.”

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