|College:||Slippery Rock, 1984|
» 2010 MAC Coach of the Year
» 97-120 at Akron (.447)
» 323-273 Overall (.542, 21 Seasons)
The longest tenured women's basketball head coach in the Mid-American Conference, Jodi Kest returns for her eighth year leading The University of Akron women's basketball program. She is back on the sidelines after guiding the Zips to their best season in school history in 2012-13, including the team's first ever trip to the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship game.
Kest has amassed over 320 victories in her head coaching career, highlighted by the program-best 23 wins the Zips collected last year in the process of rewriting the school record book. She became the winningest coach in Akron women's basketball history when the Zips defeated Canisius on Dec. 1, 2012, 81-72 at Rhodes Arena.
Akron captured its first MAC East Division title and made its first appearance in the conference championship game in 2013 at Quicken Loans Arena, after Kest led the team to win nine out of its last 10 regular season games. UA went on to earn an invitation to the WNIT for the first time since 1999, marking just the third overall postseason appearance in program history. Akron finished the season as the seventh-highest scoring team in the nation (75.4 ppg) en route to breaking more than 10 school records as a team.
Kest produced Akron's first ever MAC Player of the Year and Academic All-American in Rachel Tecca, in the forward's first season on the court after ACL surgery. Tecca broke Akron's single-season scoring record with 609 points and was ranked 23rd in the country in field goal percentage, despite averaging only 25 minutes per contest.
Three of Kest's starting five were all-conference performers, including Tecca (first team), Sina King (third team) and Hanna Luburgh (third team). Kest also mentored junior point guard Kacie Cassell, the 2013 national leader in assists per game.
Following the milestone season, Kest was rewarded with a five-year contract extension that will keep her at UA through the 2017-18 season.
A tradition of success has successfully been established at Akron under Kest, featuring her teams' signature uptempo style of play. In 2011, she coached two All-MAC selections in King and Taylor Ruper. Ruper enjoyed a lights-out year from behind the arc, becoming Akron's all-time leader in 3-pointers made. Ruper would finish her career a year later in 2013 with a school record 269 3-pointers. King was named to the All-MAC Second Team after she had a breakout season filling the shoes of the injured Tecca at center.
In 2010-11, the Zips finished 14-16 overall and 6-10 in conference play, including a trip to the MAC Tournament Quarterfinals, where they almost pulled the upset on top-seeded and eventual WNIT champion Toledo. As a team, Akron set new marks at the time with the largest margin of victory ever in a MAC game when they defeated Northern Illinois by 29 points on the road on Feb. 5. Akron's 4-4 record in league road games tied the best finish since the 1999-2000 season.
Several records were broken that year, highlighted by Kara Murphy surpassing Cheryl Bowles for the all-time scoring record. Murphy was Kest's first-ever recruit at Akron. In almost storybook fashion, Murphy broke the record on two crucial free throws in the final minutes at Buffalo to help give Akron a gritty road victory, 71-67. She also became the Zips' all-time leader with 123 games played, never missing a start in her career.
Under Kest's guidance, Tecca had one of the best seasons in program history as only a sophomore in 2010-11. The 288 rebounds she grabbed that year are tied for third for most in a single season. She also set the program mark for double-doubles in a season with 16.
Four Zips received conference honors for their play during the 2010-11 campaign. Tecca highlighted the group, as she became just the third player in program history to make the All-MAC First Team. Murphy, Akron's lone senior, earned Honorable Mention honors to join Bowles as the only two Zips to garner all-conference recognition all four years of their career.
For the sixth-straight year, Akron placed a representative on the All-Freshman Team in Carly Young. Also, junior Jasmine Mushington was named Co-Sixth Player of the Year with Central Michigan's Taylor Johnson. Keeping it in the Zips family, Tecca was the recipient of the award in 2009-10. In seven seasons, Kest has now had 11 student-athletes earn All-MAC recognition, six make the All-Freshman Team, two earn Sixth Player of the Year honors, and one named Player of the Year.
Earning recognition off the court as well, Tecca was named to the Capital One Academic All-District Third Team for District IV, as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The list recognizes the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performance on the floor and in the classroom. Tecca became the first women's basketball player in program history to earn this distinction.
During her seven seasons at Akron, Kest has coached 12 Academic All-MAC selections, including a record three in 2012-13 as Tecca, King and Luburgh all earned the distinction.
Since arriving on campus in 2006, Kest, who inherited a program that had won an average of four games per season in the six years prior to her arrival, has elevated the Zips to unprecedented heights. Under Kest, Akron won more games in her first four seasons alone (46) than in the seven seasons prior to her arrival (35 wins from 1999-2000 to 2005-06).
In 2010, Kest became the first UA women's coach to receive Coach of the Year accolades from the MAC and just the second Akron basketball coach (men's or women's) to do so, following Dan Hipsher, who was presented the award for the men's team in 1997-98.
In addition to the aforementioned benchmarks, Akron secured a first-round bye at the MAC Tournament for the first time and advanced to the semifinals for just the second time since becoming a league member in 1992. The Zips were then selected to compete in the Women's Basketball Invitational, marking their first postseason appearance in 11 years.
After opening the season with a 6-8 record, the Zips caught fire, winning 11 of their last 15 games of the regular season. Highlighting the hot stretch was a five-game win streak in league play against West Division foes Western Michigan (58-44), Ball State (66-64, OT), Eastern Michigan (73-66), Central Michigan (62-55) and Northern Illinois (57-39). Wins over the Cardinals and Eagles during that run represented two of five MAC road wins on the season for UA, which was another program high.
In all, the Zips won eight of nine contests from early January to the start of February to finish third in the MAC East Division. It was UA's second-highest finish in the league since joining the MAC in 1992.
Individual accolades followed the Zips' record-setting season. In addition to Kest's coaching honors, Akron placed two on the All-MAC squad – Murphy earned second team recognition while Kyle Baumgartner was named to the third team – and freshman Tecca became the first women's basketball player in Zips' history to be named MAC Sixth Player of the Year. Tecca, who averaged 10.4 points and 6.1 rebounds in 22.5 minutes off the bench, was also named to the All-MAC Freshman Team. Following the season, senior Jolene Tamboue was named to the Academic All-MAC Team after posting a 3.353 cumulative GPA as a biochemistry major at UA.
Murphy, in particular, blossomed under Kest's guidance. The gem of Kest's first recruiting class at UA, she led the conference in scoring (19.3 ppg), while ranking 22nd nationally, as a sophomore in 2008-09. Furthermore, the physical forward set the school's single-season record for points at the time (580) and became the youngest player in UA history to reach the 1,000-point plateau for a career. Murphy scored at least 20 points in 16 of 30 games that year and eclipsed the 30-point barrier three times.
Her record-setting season followed a freshman campaign that saw her lead the Zips in scoring (14.5 ppg) and team up with Keyla Snowden (14.2) to form the highest-scoring freshman duo in the nation. Murphy subsequently earned all-freshman and All-MAC third team honors.
The Zips' historic campaign followed a breakout season on many fronts in 2008-09. In a year that began with an upset win over Michigan – just the program's second ever victory against a Big Ten opponent – UA recorded its highest win totals, for both overall record (11) and in MAC play (6), in nine years.
Furthermore, the Zips snapped a number of dubious streaks along the way, defeating Kent State at home to snap a string of 18 straight defeats to the rival Golden Flashes, ending a 16-game slide to Ohio and a seven-game streak to Buffalo, and recording the program's first league road victory since 2004-05 - snapping a string of 19 consecutive defeats - with a convincing 68-56 decision at Miami (Ohio).
Kest enjoyed an impressive inaugural campaign in 2006-07 that saw the Zips double their win total from the previous year, experience their longest winning streak since 1996 and place two players on All Mid-American Conference postseason teams.
A one-point victory over Lehigh in December of '06 jump started a six-game win streak for the Zips en route to their first double-digit win season since 1999-2000.
In 2007-08, the Zips got off to a quick start in posting big wins at home against Saint Louis (81-77) and Houston (81-76). Despite a difficult non-conference schedule against some of the nation's elite teams, including Utah, Nebraska and Dayton, Akron was an even .500 (5-5) after the first 10 games of the year.
Murphy recorded one of the most prolific individual seasons in school history. She became the first UA freshman to receive all-conference honors, earning a third team designation after leading the team in scoring (14.5/game), rebounding (5.6/game) and steals (40). She was also the ninth-highest freshman scorer in the nation and earned a spot on the MAC All-Freshman team. Her 449 point total for the year was the fifth-highest mark in school history.
Prior to coming to Akron, Kest guided the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi program to a 73-40 (.646) record (16-12 in 2005-06) in four years, tallying a winning mark in each season and being named Independent Coach of the Year three times (2003, '04 and '05). Also, under Kest's tutelage, guard Terra Andrews was named Division I Independent Player of the year in three consecutive seasons from 2003-06. With the Islanders, Kest posted the 200th win of her career and left the school with the most wins in program history.
The highlight of her tenure came during the 2004-05 campaign when the Islanders won a school-record 23 games (23-7), and advanced to the second round of the National Invitation Tournament. The team received votes in the top 25 poll that season as well. From 2004-2006, TAMU-CC defeated such teams as Indiana, West Virginia, Nevada, Fresno State and Kent State.
Kest served as head coach at Gannon University in Erie, Pa., for six seasons (1996-97 through 2001-02) prior to her stop in Corpus Christi. During that time, she developed a two-time Division II All-American, 10 all-conference players, a pair of freshmen of the year and five all-defensive first team honorees.
In 2001-02, the Golden Knights won the GLIAC South championship, advanced to the Division II national tournament and were ranked as high as sixth in the nation. Overall, Kest built a 105-64 (.621) mark with the Golden Knights, and guided the program to three-consecutive NCAA Division II tournament appearances and three-straight 20-win seasons.
Under Kest's leadership, Gannon center Kristin Roseberry developed into one of the best players in the nation, earning All-American honors in 2000 and 2001. Roseberry was named GLIAC Freshman of the Year in 1999 before guard Jen Gwin earned that distinction in 2002. Kest left the school with the most victories in program history.
Kest cut her teeth as a head coach at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., from 1986-1990 (48-49/.494), rebuilding the struggling Division III program. After posting a 17-29 combined mark in her first two years at the helm, the 1988-89 campaign brought major improvements as the team qualified for the Middle Atlantic Conference playoffs for the first time in program history with a 16-10 record. She was tabbed as the league's coach of the year that season.
The ninth head coach in Akron program history, Kest served as an assistant coach at a number of Division I schools, logging time at Maine (1990-92), Cleveland State (1992-93), Nevada (1993-95) and Cal Poly (1995-96).
A 1984 graduate of Slippery Rock, with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education, Kest was a two-sport standout in basketball and tennis. The three-time basketball team captain garnered All-American honors on the hardwood her final two seasons.
She led the "Rock" in scoring in three successive seasons, averaging 13.6 points in 1981-82; 17.8 points in 1982-83, and 19.8 points in 1983-84. She finished her collegiate career with 1,289 points and 540 rebounds, and was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994.
In 1986, she received a master of science in education from Northwest Missouri State, where she served as graduate assistant coach from 1984-86.