Akron’s Jodi Kest Retires from Coaching After Decorated Career

After 12 decorated years as the Zips’ women’s basketball head coach, Jodi Kest announced her decision to retire from the University of Akron on Wednesday.

The all-time winningest coach in program history and the longest tenured coach in the Mid-American Conference, Kest completed her 25th season in the head coaching industry and her 34th season as a women’s basketball coach in 2017-18.

“It has been a blessing to have coached the last 12 years at The University of Akron,” Kest said. “I have had the privilege to coach many wonderful young ladies who have excelled in the classroom, on the basketball court, and in the community. They have taught me more about life than I could have ever taught them.”

“I would like to thank all of the administrators, coaches, players, and friends in the community who have been a part of an amazing journey,” said Kest. “We have accomplished many great memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.”

Associate head coach Melissa Jackson has been named acting head coach of the Akron women’s basketball program.  The University will conduct a national search.

“We want to thank Jodi for her service to the University and Akron Athletics,” said Director of Athletics Larry Williams. “Jodi has built a solid foundation for our program moving forward. Jodi’s highlights and accomplishments on the basketball court are only surpassed by her dedication to the young women in the basketball program and helping to shape them into leaders in the classroom and in the community.”

During her final season with the Zips in 2017-18, Kest earned her 400th career victory after a win against Youngstown State and went on to compile a career record of 179-195 at UA and a 405-348 overall record (.537). Kest led the Zips to four postseason appearances in four consecutive seasons (2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16) and five overall postseason berths in her tenure.

Since taking over the program in 2006, Kest led the Akron program to unprecedented new heights which was highlighted by the first ever Mid-American Conference Championship in program history, two MAC East titles, 19 wins in four consecutive campaigns (2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16) and back-to-back 23-win seasons (2012-13, 2013-14).

The 2013-14 season was one to remember as Kest led the Zips to their first MAC championship and NCAA Tournament appearance. The third-seeded Zips won their first MAC Tournament title defeating fifth-seeded Ball State, 79-68, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The victory gave Akron the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, which was Kest’s first appearance on the national stage as a Division I head coach.

In her time, Kest coached and mentored five of the most decorated players in the history of the Akron women’s basketball program in Hannah Luburgh, Kara Murphy, Rachel Tecca, Sina King, and Hannah Plybon. Those five compose five of the top-six best scorers in Akron women’s basketball history, including Tecca who stands as the all-time leading scorer (2,317 points). In their respective careers, Kest helped lead Tecca and King to honorable-mention All-American accolades, while both Tecca (2013) and King (2015) were named the first two Mid-American Conference Player of the Years in the Akron program.

In total at Akron, Kest coached two honorable-mention All-Americans, two Mid-American Conference Players of the Year, two MAC Sixth-Players of the Year, 20 student-athletes to All-MAC recognition, eight student-athletes to the All-MAC Freshman team, 23 students to the Academic All-MAC team. To cap it all off, Kest was named the 2010 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year and the Ohio Coach of the Year in 2014.

Akron became well-known for its up-tempo style of play and established itself as one of the top-scoring teams in the country throughout Kest’s tenure. The Akron offense was ranked nationally inside the top-50 programs in three consecutive seasons (2013-16).

In Kest’s first two years at the helm of the Akron program, she guided the Zips to 46 victories after the team won just 24 games in the six years combined prior to her arrival in Akron. In 2010, Kest became the first UA women’s coach to receive Coach of the Year accolades from the MAC and just the second Akron basketball coach (men’s or women’s) at the time to do so, following Dan Hipsher, who was presented the award for the men’s team in 1997-98.

Kest began her career as a head coach at Wilkes University in 1986 and helped turn the program around leading Wilkes to the Middle Atlantic Conference playoffs for the first time in program history and was rewarded as the leagues Coach of the Year.

Just as she did at Wilkes, Kest saw nothing but success while at the helm of the of the Gannon University women’s basketball program. During that time, she developed a two-time Division II All-American, 10 All-Conference players, a pair of Freshmen of the Year, and five All-Defensive first team honorees.

Prior to taking over the Akron program, Kest made one more stop as the head coach at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Under Kest’s tutelage, Corpus Christi tallied a winning mark in all four seasons (73-40 overall), Kest was named Independent Coach of the Year three times, and she coached Terra Andrews to three-straight Independent Player of the Year accolades.

A 1984 graduate of Slippery Rock with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, Kest was a two-sport standout in basketball and tennis. The three-time basketball team captain garnered All-American honors on the hardwood her final two seasons.

She led the “Rock” in scoring in three successive seasons, averaging 13.6 points in 1981-82; 17.8 points in 1982-83, and 19.8 points in 1983-84. She finished her collegiate career with 1,289 points and 540 rebounds. Kest was inducted into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994.

In 1986, she received a master’s degree in education from Northwest Missouri State where she served as graduate assistant coach from 1984-86.


Tagged with: