Jerome Jenkins, former Sacramento State University Men’s Basketball coach, was hired in June of this year, and aims to build on the existing foundation of players and staff of the men’s team at Whatcom Community College this season and beyond.
Jenkins is entering his eighteenth year of head coaching, and his twenty-eigth year of coaching in total. He started his career shortly out of college, where he played point guard, as an assistant at Eastern Washington University. Based on his acumen for recruiting talent and his relationships with the players, he was hired as an assistant at Sacramento State University.
In his first year at Sacramento State, the head coach was fired, leading to Jenkins being named the interim head coach. That interim job, for which he admits not being completely ready, became an eight-year run as their head coach, in which he brought the team to the Big Sky Tournament for four consecutive years. He coached there from 2000-2008.
Athletic Director Danny Day brought in Jenkins as one of his first additions to the athletic department at Whatcom.
“I’m really grateful for Day and his early trust in me,” Jenkins says, “having given me a new opportunity in a new region.” Though he hasn’t experienced much of Bellingham or Whatcom County yet, the new team and journey excites Jenkins greatly.
“I look forward to bringing my aggressive style of play to the Northwest, and the strong foundation of assistants and athletes is more than I could ask for.” Jenkins’ style of basketball is “very fast and physical, both on offense and defense. Even in a full-court zone press. This will allow us to wear out our opponents in almost every game. We could be a problem for our opponents this year.”
He wants to bring that aggression and speed to take advantage of every square inch of the court. “We’ll bring a fast combination of attacking the basket and using the open three-pointer. We want to physically beat our competition in any and all ways.”
With that mindset, he seeks to make practices the hardest part of the week. This strategy is common among successful coaches at all levels of basketball.
Despite his focus on hard-nosed basketball as a coach, he prioritizes being a “player’s coach.” He believes that education and creating a family dynamic are more important for his players and the school than wins are.
“The most impactful moments in my coaching career have been seeing my players walk across the stage at graduation. Seeing those young men accomplish and succeed after I coached them means as much as any victory,” said Jenkins. He’s even been to the weddings of a few of his former players.
When asked about his experience so far at Whatcom, he said that things have been very fortunate as he’s been brought into the fold. “This is one of the best groups of guys I’ve ever worked with, and they bought into my philosophy very quickly. I’m very pleased with what I’ve been working with, especially in my first year with a program.”
Jenkins is looking forward to his first season with the men’s team, so he can see all the hard work and camaraderie translate to a few wins. Though his priority is making his players’ lives better through basketball, Jenkins is still fiercely competitive.
“Wins are definitely a goal in the short-term, and I’ll scratch and claw to get there if I have to.” However, he wants to have a true long-term effect on the men’s basketball program.
“I want to leave a legacy with any team I coach, and this one is no exception.”
More than he wants to win, Jenkins wants to leave a lasting positive impact on WCC and its athletics department. Finally, he acknowledged that there are ups and downs for every coach in their career, but his advice to any future coaches, at any level, is to “not take things personally, stay confident in your process and your message, keep fighting forward, and do what you can to improve the lives of your players. Players and coaches shouldn’t work for basketball; basketball should work for you.”