Jessica Hollen, the 2012 and 2015 Northwest Conference Coach of the Year, is more excited than ever about the direction the George Fox University Bruins are heading as she enters her ninth season at the helm of the school's softball program in 2017.
Last season, the Bruins made their first-ever NCAA Division III Softball Tournament appearance in the West Regional. The Bruins continued their road of firsts with a win over No. 1 seed Claremont Mudd-Scripps, 5-2, in the first round. The Bruins posted an overall record of 31-16, which tied the 2015 squad for most wins in program history. They also graduated the best senior class in program history – Amanda Woods, Courtney Howard, Kat Hylton and Kayla Anderson, who finished their four year career with 103 wins. Before they earned an automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament, the Bruins made their second straight appearance in the Northwest Conference Tournament. As the No. 2 seed, the Bruins managed a way to get back to the Championship game after falling in game one of the tournament. The Bruins collected six All-NWC accolades. In her eight seasons, she has an overall record of 154-176 (.467).
After setting a new team record for most wins in a season in 2014, the 2015 squad did it again, breaking the program record with an overall record of 31-13. The Bruins finished second in the Northwest Conference standings and made just their second appearance in the Northwest Conference Tournament. As the No. 2 seed, the Bruins made it all the way to the Championship game after falling nearly to Linfield College, 4-3. Hollen was named 2015 Northwest Conference Coach of the Year and had seven players honored with All-NWC accolades. She collected her 100th career victory on March. 1, 2015 over Puget Sound in a 16-7 - 5 inning game. She also had two players named to the All-West Region Second Team. In her seven seasons she has an overall record of 123-160 (.435).
In 2014, the Bruins finished 24-16 on the season and 13-15 in the Nortwhest Conference. Hollen's team passed the 1994 team (21-8) setting a new team record for most wins in a season. George Fox finished tied for fifth with Pacific Lutheran University, and missed the Northwest Conference Tournament by one game. The Bruins had five players honored with NWC accolades, and will return four the five players to the 2015 season.
George Fox remained competitive in 2013 as the Bruins went 18-22 overall and 15-13 in the conference, this time finishing fifth and just one game out of a tournament spot. The Bruins recorded season sweeps of Puget Sound and Lewis & Clark, took three of four from playoff-bound Whitworth, and took a game from defending national champion Pacific Lutheran. Rookie shortstop Kayla Anderson became Hollen's first All-NWC First Team selection and was the first Bruin to be honored past the conference level since 1994, being named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-West Region Third Team. Her career record after five seasons now stands at 68-131 (.342).
Hollen's rebuilding efforts began to bear fruit in 2012 as the Bruins went 20-22 overall and again went 15-13 in the conference, finishing fourth in the NWC after being picked for sixth and earning a berth in the four-team NWC Tournament, where they were eliminated with losses to No. 1-ranked Linfield and Willamette. It was the Bruins' first post-season appearance in 18 years. Included in their regular-season highlights were four-game sweeps of Puget Sound and Pacific in conference play, a victory over NAIA national power College of Idaho, and two one-run losses and a win over eventual NCAA Division III national champion Pacific Lutheran. The Bruins' tremendous improvement caught the attention of league coaches, who awarded Hollen with her first NWC Coach of the Year selection.
"I was excited to receive the Coach of the Year award; it is always rewarding to be recognized by your peers," admitted Hollen. "It is a testament to the hard work of my coaching staff as well as the dedication of our players."
Taking over a program that hadn't had a winning season since 2001, Hollen led the Bruins to a 5-32 overall record and seventh-place finish in the NWC at 3-23 in her inaugural year of 2009. The following season, the Bruins improved dramatically to 13-27 overall and 7-21 in the conference, again finishing seventh. Beset by injuries to four key players early in the 2011 season, the Bruins went 12-28 and 6-22 in the NWC for another seventh-place showing.
Hollen began her softball career as a player at North Salem (Ore.) High School, but even then took an interest in the coaching side, assisting her high school pitching coach with private lessons by working with the younger pitchers. In college, she played for a season at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, then transferred to Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Ore., and earned Junior College All-America honors as a sophomore.
Hollen's coaching career started in 2004 with a year as an assistant softball coach at Chemeketa. She served as the varsity softball coach at Stayton (Ore.) High School in 2005-06 while completing her bachelor of science degree in history at Western Oregon University, which she received in 2006. She then returned to Chemeketa as the co-head coach for the 2007 season. After attending the Willamette University College of Law, she spent a year as a law clerk in the office of the Marion County District Attorney, but decided to return to coaching when the George Fox position became available.
Hollen is married to John Hollen, a former baseball player at Corban University, who serves as one of her assistant coaches. During her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as skiing and camping. The Hollens are members of the Newberg Foursquare Church, and have two daughters: Riley May, age 4, and Kinley Grace, age 3.
2012 Northwest Conference Coach of the Year
2015 Northwest Conference Coach of the Year
1st win - 5-4 vs. Eastern Oregon, 2/20/2009
50th win - 3-1 vs. Whitworth, 4/15/2012 (second game)
100th win - 16-7 - 5 innings vs. Puget Sound, 3/1/2015 (second game)
150th win - 10-7 - vs. Lewis & Clark, 4/17/2016 (first game)