Success is about more than winning games to women’s basketball coach Jennifer Gross.
Even though Gross has the best winning percentage among active Big West coaches and has led multiple teams to the NCAA tournament, the Women's National Invitation Tournament and the Big West Tournament championship, she told Chancellor Gary S. May she was more concerned with building confidence and other life skills.
“Our goal is to make sure our players are coming through and they’re having a life-changing experience — that they’re growing in every possible way,” Gross said on the third episode of Face to Face With Chancellor May, released today (May 25). “If you just focus on improvement every single day — come to practice with a great attitude — those are things that will help you with basketball, but will also just help you with everything that you want to do.”
Gross has coached the Aggies since 2010, and earlier this month signed an extension that will keep her in the head coaching position until at least the 2030 season.
During her interview with May, she discussed the path she took from playing basketball against her two brothers as a kid to setting records as a point guard for UC Davis. May asked her about her decision to come to UC Davis as a student, and Gross explained that it’s “a place where you can have the best of everything” — athletics, education, a great college town and great people.
The chancellor said she was doing such an admirable job of describing UC Davis that she must be a great recruiter for potential players.
“I want to come play for you now,” he said.
The two also discussed the disruptive impact the pandemic has had on collegiate sports, and Gross said the players on the women’s basketball team met and decided to tough it out, staying active as a team instead of sitting out the season entirely.
“I’m just so proud of the team right now the way they handled all the adversity thrown at us,” she said. “More than anything I’m just so grateful for these women I get to coach. They made those choices to protect each other.”
During the recurring, quick-fire “hot seat” segment of the show, May asked Gross for short answers on her favorite place on campus to take a prospective student-athlete, her favorite sport besides basketball, and what she might be doing if she weren’t a coach. Then Gross got the chance to ask a couple questions of her own, and the coach quizzed the chancellor on ways UC Davis can continue to promote equity among men’s and women’s sports.
Previous guests on the chancellor’s monthly talk show:
- Akshita Gandra, a senior majoring in cognitive science who founded The Revival Zine, an online publication focused on giving a voice to college students from around the country writing about feminism and social justice.
- Theanne Griffith, an assistant professor of in the Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology who is also a children’s book author.
Cody Kitaura is a News and Media Relations Specialist in the Office of Strategic Communications, and can be reached by email or at 530-752-1932.