By Angel Ospina | Published Dec. 10, 2015
“Never settle for less than your best,” a motto that Head Coach of Kean’s Women’s Tennis team Jodi Valenti says she lives by every day, and teaches her players to do the same.
Not settling for less has propelled Valenti as one of the best coaches in New Jersey, as she recently received the Flo Labenski New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Coach of the Year award.
“It’s an amazing feeling and something to be very proud of,” Valenti said. “It’s motivating as well to keep getting better and better every year.”
Valenti, an alumna of Kean, received her Bachelors Degree in Health and Physical Education in 2003 and received her Masters degree in Educational Administrational from the university in 2009.
“It’s nice to coach and teach where I received my education,” Valenti said. “Kean University and Kean Athletics is a great program, so it’s good to give back to where I gained a lot of my knowledge from.”
Valenti played for four years as an undergraduate, and is currently the record holder at Kean with 20 wins in a season for singles competition. Valenti’s knowledge of the game from the perspective of a coach and player is a recipe for great coaching, a recipe her players adore.
“Growing through the ranks first as a player, assistant coach, and finally present day as a head coach, she is able to put herself in her players’ shoes,” said Senior Shruti Nadkarni speaking of her coach’s strengths.
Valenti has been with Kean for the past ten years and just finished her third year as the teams head coach.
“She is able to seam together the team, harvest each players strengths, all while keeping a positive mind and encouraging each of us to play to our maximum potential,” said Nadkarni.
Valenti’s passion for the sport and positive attitude brings out the best in her players.
“Coach Valenti’s tenacity, coupled with her love for the sport are two of the many strengths she has as a coach,” said captain of the women’s tennis team, Christy Verdi. “I have become a better tennis player and person. I am so happy that she received Coach of the Year, she truly deserves it.”
Valenti’s journey to her latest achievement started when her Physical Education teacher advised her to play tennis her sophomore year of high school.
“She got me motivated to play,” Valenti said. “At first I didn’t start, but it taught me to never give up and gave me drive to actually want to coach one day and help others.”
The advice led her to a great career as a tennis player and now coach. Ironically, she is currently a Physical Education teacher for Roosevelt Elementary School in Bergen County.
“Sports sets the tone for a persons personality because it gives a lot of leadership skills and teaches you to work hard,” Valenti said as she discussed the importance of sports and physical education.
Valenti hopes to provide advice to her students and players, similar to the advice she obtained at a young age that helped shaped her career.
“Sports just keeps kids on the right path, and I know for myself it sure did” she said.