This is Sarah Jurewicz’s story: a woman who can be described as a servant leader, an impressionist and a coach who changes not only players lives on the court, but also off. But off the court she is also changing lives all around the world. Coach Jay is in her eighth season as head coach of the Wittenberg Tigers Women’s Basketball Team.
Friends call her “Say Jay,” but to others she is rapidly becoming known as “Shoeless Jay.” In this story, you will find out how she manages to juggle the multiple hats she is currently wearing and has worn throughout her life.
I began my time with the coach by taking her back to her glory days when she played in the Pam Evans Arena. Coach Jay is the Women’s Basketball Team’s leading all-time scorer with over 1,000 points scored in her career.
“I was very fortune to come to Wittenberg and play under a truly legendary coach in Division 3, Pam Evans Smith,” said Jurewicz.
Coach Jay further told me that Coach Smith “really helped mentor [her] and drove [her] to be the best person she could be.” While the coach remains humble about how she became the all-time scorer, she said, “I had great teammates who made my experiences as successful has it was. I couldn’t have had the experiences that I had without them.”
During her time as a player, she remained driven to be successful and never had an injury during her collegiate athletic career.
“I am very blessed to never have to deal with any injuries,” she said. “That contributed to my success as well, and never missing a game, of course.”
After we talked about her as a player, it was only fitting to discuss her as a coach. The second opportunity that she would have to coach a team was at Colorado College for two seasons. In her first season with the team in 2003-2004, they went 2-and-20. In season two, Colorado College would experience a dramatic turn-around compared to the previous season.
Coach Jay said “it was really amazing” to have the opportunity to help turn them around.
“Anytime you get to work with a group of students and help them strategize is so much more about their mindset and impacting [them] culturally and making them tap into that confidence that they think they don’t have, but do,” she said. “[It’s] to help them understand how their mental attitude has so much to do with their success.”
Jay’s first coaching opportunity came at Savannah College as the assistant coach from 2000-2003. She was involved in all aspects of the program, including practice preparation, post development, recruitment and game strategy. Jay helped the team to two winning seasons in her three years.
“It was really exciting; the team there was so athletic and quite amazing,” she said.
But the most interesting thing about her time at Savannah wasn’t the amazing records they upheld, but that the players were all artists in some aspects, as Savannah is an arts and design college. During Jays’s time, the team had a 19-7 record and an appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament in 2001-02.
In next week’s edition of Witt Discoveries, we will continue the story about this servant, leader, creative expressionist and coach.