Steve Jennings has been a well-known figure in national and international field hockey for two decades both as a coach and player, including serving as a coach for the U.S. Women’s Olympic National Team in 2008 and 2016. He was inducted into the NFHCA Hall of Fame in 2012 and was a named an Honorary Member of the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.
The 2018 season will mark the 20th for Jennings as the head field hockey coach at American University, where he has amassed a 245-129 (.655) career record. Under Jennings’ leadership, the Eagles have claimed an unprecedented ten Patriot League Championships in just 15 seasons in the conference. He owns a career record of 81-13 in Patriot League regular-season action, including eight undefeated seasons, and a 21-6 PL Tournament record. Jennings has been named Patriot League Coach of the Year nine times in his career.
Living the Olympic Dream
Prior to the 2008 and 2016 American field hockey seasons, Jennings performed on field hockey’s grandest stage – the Summer Olympic Games. He served as assistant coach for the U.S. National Women’s Field Hockey team, which captured eighth place in Beijing and fifth in Rio de Janeiro.
Jennings helped guide the U.S. team to a 6-0 record in winning the 2018 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Kazan, Russia. In the title match, the U.S. team defeated Belgium, 3-1, to clinch a berth to Beijing.
“Being involved in the Olympic team is such a tremendous honor – definitely a peak life experience that is hard to put into words,” Jennings said. “In the end, it meant getting a chance to see if you can be the absolute best and the power of being surrounded by people who have given literally everything they have to be there.”
International Coaching Experience
In addition to the two Olympic Games, Jennings has assisted in two World Cups, helping the U.S. in 2002 to a ninth-place finish in Perth, Australia, and earning a sixth-place finish in 2006 in Madrid, Spain. At the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jennings helped the U.S. earn a silver medal after falling to No. 2 world-ranked Argentina 4-2 in the title match.
Following the conclusion of the 2012 season he was named the Head Coach of the U.S. Junior National Team, leading the squad through a four-test match series against New Zealand, four-nation tournament in Australia and the Junior World Cup in Germany. The team also competed at the Junior World Cup in Germany in July 2013, finishing seventh overall.
Most recently, Jennings helped guide the US Women’s National Team to a gold medal showing at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, to secure an Olympic qualifying spot for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Jennings also holds a Level III coaching certification – the highest level for field hockey in the United States. In May 2008, he became the first U.S. citizen to be awarded the title of FIH Coach – High Performance after an FIH finals course held in conjunction with the Champions Trophy in Monchengladbach, Germany.
The Call to the Hall
In 2012, Jennings added another accolade to his already storied career. He was inducted into the NFHCA Hall of Fame.
"I am unbelievably humbled by this incredible and totally unexpected honor," said Jennings. "More than anything I have great pride that American University—our program, staff and players, both current and former, will be represented by this special recognition. I know that I am the recipient because of their support, hard work and skill. The depth of my gratitude for all of the people who have made this distinction possible—from USA Field Hockey to AU to the Washington, D.C., hockey community, is not something I can convey appropriately in words."
In 2014, Jennings was named to his second Hall of Fame, being honored as an Honorary Member of the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame. Honorary membership to the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame is conferred on individuals who have given long and exceptional service to USA Field Hockey and have made significant contributions to the sport. Jennings was one of five honorary members to be inducted.
Ten Patriot League Championships
Under the guidance of Jennings, American won eight consecutive league titles from 2003 to 2010 and nine straight regular-season championships from 2003 to 2011. The Eagles added their ninth Patriot League title in 2013, posting an overall record of 15-6 and a 6-0 record in conference play. The Eagles won their NCAA Play-In Game, 3-1, over Quinnipiac to clinch the program’s eighth NCAA Tournament berth, before falling to top-ranked Maryland, 4-1.
The team fell from atop the league standings in 2014 and 2015, but still achieved a number of notable accomplishments, including leading the NCAA in shutouts per game in 2014 after holding eight of their last nine opponents to scoreless losses. In 2014, senior Grace Wilson, who earned third-team All-American accolades, was honored as the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, while freshman Angela Virtu was tabbed as the PL Rookie of the Year. Wilson also represented AU on the NFHCA All-Mid Atlantic Region first team, while classmates Carly Atchison and Rebecca Treharne each garnered second-team all-region honors.
The Eagles closed 2015 as the No. 2 seed coming out of the regular season and advanced on to the title game before falling to Boston University, 2-1. Senior Kate McBeath earned the PL Goalie of the Year nod while freshman Rafaela Rubas was recognized as PL Rookie of the Year. Both were named to the All-Patriot League first team along with junior Natalie Konerth, who was also recognized as the PL Scholar-Athlete of the Year. All three were also chosen as 2015 Longstreth/NFHCA Division I All-Mid Atlantic Region selections, with Rubas receiving first-team all-region accolades and Konerth and McBeath both making the second-team. The honors continued rolling in for Konerth and McBeath, as both upperclassmen were also selected to the 2015 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Field Hockey All-Star second team.
AU reclaimed the conference title in 2016 after a thrilling tournament run, which closed with a championship rematch between the Eagles and Terriers on Boston's home field. A first-half goal from Rafeala Rubas proved to be the game-changer, as both teams closed with scoreless second halves, and the Eagles advanced on to the NCAA Play-In Round for the first time since 2013. The Eagles beat out Kent State, 2-1, en route to their NCAA First Round qualification, where they fell to No. 1 Duke, 3-0.
The Eagles once again cleaned up in the postseason awards, with Natalie Konerth earning her second consecutive Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year award and joining Maura Jacobs, Rafaela Rubas and Rachel Stefano on the All-Tournament Team. Rubas was also voted the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Konerth, Rubas, and Angela Virtu were all named to the First Team All-Patriot League, while Leah DiGiandomenico and Rachel Stefano earned second team honors. Konerth and Rubas closed the season with selections to the First Team Mid-Atlantic Region.
With Jennings at the helm, the Eagles have also consistently excelled in the classroom, registering the top GPA of all Division I field hockey programs for the third time in program history with a 3.65 cumulative GPA in 2015. During that same season, the Eagles earned the ZAG Field Hockey/NFHCA Division I National Academic Team Award for the 13th consecutive year, while 20 American field hockey student-athletes were named to the NFHCA Division I National Academic Squad, led by sophomore Natalie Konerth and Maura Jacobs, who were selected as NFHCA Scholars of Distinction. A league-best 25 Eagles earned spots on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll, with three student-athletes named to the Academic All-Patriot League team, including PL Scholar-Athlete of the Year Natalie Konerth.
Playing at the Highest Level
Jennings also knows about playing field hockey himself. He was a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team from 1991 to 1999 and played in over 90 international test matches. He competed in two Pan American Games, winning the bronze in 1995 during the event held in Mar Del Plata, Argentina. Jennings also competed with the U.S. U-21 team at the 1989 Junior World Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia. The highlight of his playing career came in 1996 when he represented the United States in the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta where he served as the team’s vice captain.
Jennings is a native of Bethesda, Md., and attended Walter Johnson High School. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Jennings' Coaching Accomplishments
- 18 NFHCA All-America selections since 2003
- 64 All-Region selections since 2003
- Nine NCAA tournament appearances in the last 11 years
- Two NCAA Elite Eight appearances (2004, 2005)
- No. 4 national ranking in 2005
- Nine times in the past 12 years AU field hockey has finished in the top five of all D-I field hockey GPAs
- Eight Patriot League Scholar-Athletes of the Year
- 11 of the last 15 years AU has led the league in selections to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll
- 266 Patriot League Academic Honor Roll selections since 2001
- Two-time NFHCA Regional Coach of the Year (2003, 2004)
- 2004 NFHCA Division I Coach of the Year
Updated: Sept. 27, 2018