Jen Johnstone, the head field hockey and assistant women’s lacrosse coach at Husson University in Bangor, has left the NCAA Division III institution to become an assistant coach/recruiting coordinator at Division I James Madison University (Va.).
Johnstone, a former University of Maine All-America midfielder in field hockey, directed the Eagles’ field hockey program for three years and had been the lacrosse coach for two-plus seasons.
She will coach under Christy Morgan, who led JMU to an NCAA championship in 1994 and posted a record of 133-66-2 in nine seasons. Morgan, who coached at Davidson and Wake Forest, was rehired by JMU in January.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said the 33-year-old Johnstone, a two-time first-team All-America East selection at Maine. “It’s exciting to be here. I grew up in northern Pennsylvania (Dallas) and to be the recruiting coordinator is awesome because I have a lot of connections in Pennsylvania and I obviously made new connections being in Maine and New England.”
Johnstone guided Husson to a 33-25 record in her three seasons.
The Eagles won the conference tournament title in 2011 and played in the NCAA Division III tournament. They were the top seed in 2012 and lost to Castleton State in the North Atlantic Conference championship game and reached the semifinals last fall.
Jonstone, the North Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year in 2012, said she enjoyed her time at Husson.
“It was a great experience,” said Johnstone. “The girls were great. They were great people and great student-athletes for sure. They were hardworking and dedicated. They were really committed to getting better.”
She was 7-21 as the women’s lacrosse coach.
She is looking forward to coaching with Morgan, whom she has met at field hockey camps and through a visit Morgan made to UMaine when Johnstone was a player.
In a press release, Morgan said, “Jennifer is a great addition to our staff. She brings a great work ethic, attention to detail and ability to identify top-notch athletes due to her connections in the hockey community. Jennifer does not shy away from a great challenge and has experience in changing a culture from good to great.”
James Madison plays in the Colonial Athletic Association and went 21-16 the past two seasons.
Penny White and Emily Child are Husson’s interim coaches for the lacrosse team, which finished its regular season at 2-9, 2-4 in conference play.
The Eagles also will have to replace Chris Wood, who was the head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country teams and the women’s indoor and outdoor track teams. Wood was also the strength and conditioning coordinator.
Wood left to join former Husson athletic director Bob Reasso at Division II Pfeiffer University (N.C.). Reasso is the vice president for athletics, the athletic director and the men’s soccer coach at Pfeiffer.
Kate Goupee, Jillian O’Brien and Alex Barner are interim coaches for the women’s outdoor track team and Aaron Runner is the interim strength and conditioning coordinator.
Husson athletic director Frank Pergolizzi said there were 82 applicants for the cross country/track positions and he hopes to have someone hired by mid-May. There are four finalists.
The new coach won’t be the strength and conditioning coordinator as Pergolizzi will fill that position separately.
Husson hasn’t started the search for the field hockey/women’s lacrosse coach, which will be a dual position.
Pergolizzi said he is hoping to hire coaches who will stay at least three years.
“It takes one year just to get organized,” he said.
Pergolizzi said losing Johnstone to a Division I school and Wood to a Division II school should be an indicator to prospective coaches that Husson can serve as a valuable stepping stone.