Editor's note: This story first appeared in the spring 2019 issue of the Concordian, the official magazine of Concordia University Wisconsin.
Get to know one of our “uncommon” Concordians, Stacey Brunner-Jones, head coach of the women’s basketball program.
For a university with a strong athletics game, one could figure that the winningest coach in women’s basketball history and highest winning percentage in the department would have a bit of swagger. Stacey Brunner-Jones, women’s basketball head coach for 15 seasons, is a visible presence on the sidelines of every game, especially in her trademark two-inch heels. Her boss-ness doesn’t stop there. Brunner-Jones is as known off the court as on for her hard work, genuine personality, nurturing leadership style, and competitive spirit.
1. How does it feel to have 284 wins under your belt—the most in program history?
My most influential role model growing up besides my parents was my high school basketball coach. He taught me the value and rewards of hard work, and invested in me as a whole person. While winning is certainly important, I hope that my colleagues and players recognize me as a leader who puts in the work, and who takes the time to get to know the strengths and uniqueness of others.
2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of coaching within NCAA Division III?
The advantage is that every player here is a true student- athlete. They come to practice and play hard because they want to be here. They aren’t bound to the team because of a scholarship. The disadvantage is that because we’re DIII I only get to be with my players in-season. I would love an opportunity to work with them year-round.
3. Is there a sorority of Falcons basketball alumnae?
I’m so glad you asked. Definitely. My relationships with former players are so important to me. They come to games, give me and our players support, keep our spirits high after a loss, and celebrate with us when we win. My players and I develop such strong bonds that even when they’ve moved on from Concordia I’m still often the first call they make, after family, of course, when they have big life announcements like getting a job, getting engaged, and having children.
4. While you’ve certainly made winning a habit, how do you get your team through the inevitable slumps?
Basketball is the longest sport because we play in both semesters, and have the holiday break and winterim in the middle. It’s crucial for us to create a strong family-like culture so that we can help each other through some of the difficult stretches. In a Christian community like Concordia it is quite natural for us to act like a family because we attend chapel together when we can and pray as a team for His continued guidance and protection. I’m so fortunate to receive the love and support I do from the players and the assistant coaches. I’m a mother of two young children, and could not get through the long days and unconventional schedule of being a head coach without all of their support.
5. You’re well known for coaching in high heels. What’s the story?
That’s funny! I love shoes, all kinds of shoes. When I wear heels I just feel taller, tougher, and more confident. When I’m on the sideline I apparently stomp my foot, and allegedly if you look closely on the field house floor you’ll notice thousands of tiny little dots from my stomping.
The spring 2019 Concordian hit mailboxes the beginning of May. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, call 262-243-4333.
— Lisa Liljegren is assistant vice president of strategic communications within the Office of Strategy and University Affairs.
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