When the Gonzaga University athletics department hired Jenna Larson, not only was she excited about the job, but also the opportunity to return to the city she grew up in and to follow the basketball program she watched as a child.
Larson is the newest SID or sports information director for baseball, tennis and volleyball. In this role, she will serve as a communication liason between the media and athletes.
“Gonzaga was always the pinnacle of athletics in my mind,” Larson said in an email. “I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to return to my hometown and work for such an incredible institution.”
Larson was born in Clarksville, Tennessee, but moved to Spokane and attended Ferris High School, less than five miles away from GU. She was a three-sport athlete at Ferris, but was most successful in basketball, earning a McDonald’s All-American nomination and a spot in the Jack Blair All-Star game in Coeur d’Alene her senior year.
Due to her outstanding performance in high school, Larson received a basketball scholarship at Northern Arizona University, where she was a four-year starter and played over 100 games for the Lumberjacks.
“It had been my dream since about fourth grade to play college basketball,” Larson said. “I learned so much as a person and a player and I don’t think I’d trade that experience for anything.”
Off the court, Larson was involved in the community and academics in college. She made the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team each of her four seasons and won the Golden Axe, which is awarded to seniors who made outstanding contributions to the university.
After her time at NAU, Larson decided to get her master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin, which she said turned out to be an amazing learning experience for her.
“My experience as a student-assistant at Texas was unreal,” Larson said. “Seeing how a program of that size operates was incredibly educational … plus Austin is my favorite city, so living there was just another perk.”
Although Larson had many intriguing jobs in athletics, such as being the assistant director of media relations at Idaho State University, coming to GU and joining the athletics program was too good to pass up.
“In my time working in the sports world, Gonzaga has always been regarded as one of the best [athletics programs] … not only for its program’s successes but also in the way the department conducts itself,” Larson said.
Another reason Larson is excited to have the job at GU is the opportunity to be back home in Spokane. Visiting Spokane used to be a vacation for her, but now she gets the chance to be a part of the community once again.
In the city, Larson loves exploring the vibrant food scene booming around the area, but nothing beats hanging out with her family and sewing in her free time.
“I really enjoy sewing,” Larson said. “It’s been a way for me to be creative and escape some of the stresses of everyday life, and it’s given me an endless list of gifts for family and friends.”
Being back in Spokane is fun and all, but Larson loves her time spent at GU because she gets to learn and develop herself every day. It is Larson’s dedication to improvement that Todd Zeidler, assistant director of athletics/communications, noticed during the hiring process that made him want to bring her on board.
“We were very impressed with Jenna throughout the interview process,” Zeidler said. “Her experience and excitement for the position were exactly what we were looking for in our next [sports information director].”
In her short time working for GU athletics, Larson has noticed how each employee is dedicated to improving the program year after year.
“No one settles [at GU],” Larson said. “Everyone is always asking ‘how can I do this better?’”
Looking ahead, Larson is ready to make the most out of her opportunity as a sports information director with GU athletics.
“My goal is to absorb as much information, knowledge and skill as I can in the time that I have the privilege of working at Gonzaga,” Larson said. “I’ve learned so much just in the three months I’ve been here, and I can’t wait to see what I learn in the future.”
Jake Wilson is a staff writer. Follow him on Twitter: @JakeWilsonn1.