Kings Q&A: Assistant Coach Jenny Boucek
This season, former Sacramento Monarchs and Seattle Storm head coach Jenny Boucek joined the Kings coaching staff, becoming the third woman to hold a coaching position in the NBA.
In honor of Women's History Month and the upcoming International Women's Day, Kings.com caught up with Jenny to discuss her basketball roots, playing in the inaugural WNBA season, role models and more.
What does Women's History Month mean to you?
"I think it is important to honor women who have made a difference. We’ve had so many phenomenal women who have fought battles and paved the way for women like me to have opportunities. I’ve been very blessed to be a Title IX baby - I was born basically the same year that law was passed. Without a lot of women going before me, I wouldn’t be doing some things that I love."
Who is your biggest female role model? And why?
"I credit the women but also the men in my family. My grandfathers were men way ahead of their time that were attracted to and encouraging of strong women. Both of my grandmothers held advanced degrees and so did my mom’s generation. Other than that, Pat Summit. Growing up in Tennessee, she’s a legend. Everyone knows the basketball stories, but the legendary stories around our state about what type of person she was and how much she genuinely cared about people while reaching such a high level of performance shaped a lot of how I act."
What is a core value of basketball that you cherish?
"I think my favorite thing about basketball is that team sports are a microcosm of life. As a coach, it is a real unique and special platform to teach life lessons; relationship skills, handling adversity, mistake response and a lot of life skills that are very important. I’ve got to play and coach players from all around the world and different socio-economic backgrounds and just the conversations and relationships and growth that takes place in a intimate setting with people of all different backgrounds and beliefs has been extremely valuable and such a blessing."
What was it like being a player for the Cleveland Rockers in the WNBA’s inaugural year?
"The biggest thing that sticks out from that season was that it was a blessing to be a part of the inaugural season of our league. It was way bigger than basketball and we all felt that. It was only 80 players from around the world and it was the first year of having that league and we all sensed the responsibility and the potential of how that could impact culture around the world. To see young boys with women’s jerseys on and celebrating women and then to see grown women who have been through a lot of adversity wanting to play a sport that they love and not having the opportunity be in tears during our games – it was powerful."
What was your time like being a coach for the WNBA? How is it different than the NBA?
"It’s pretty similar other than the logistics and length of the season. You’re dealing with the most elite athletes in the world. Their mentalities are very similar, regardless of the gender."
Tell us about how it felt becoming the third woman to become an NBA coach? Was it an aspiration of yours?
"My aspiration was not to coach, so that was a last-minute thing that I fell into and ended up falling in love with. In coaching you continue to compete as a group and you’re serving the team without any ulterior motives. When you’re a player on the pro level you’re often competing with your teammates to survive. I don’t really think about becoming the third female NBA coach. If a byproduct of me getting to do what I love and the organization giving me an opportunity to do it at the highest level - if the ripple effect of that is that I can inspire people, that’s something that I’m very proud of."
What adversities have you faced being a woman throughout sports and how did you use those as a stepping stone to make you stronger?
"The women who have gone before me probably have a lot more stories. I’ve been given a lot of great opportunities because of them. We don’t want to be given jobs because we are women, what we want is to not be eliminated from the conversation because we’re women. If we earn it we earn it, if we don’t we don’t. We just want to be in the conversation."
What is your favorite thing about your job?
"It’s hard to say one thing. I’ve always really loved being part of a team and handling challenges and adversity as a group – bringing out the best in each other. Sacrificing for the greater good to help others. I love to help and do whatever I can to assist where is needed."