Former Lipscomb women's basketball standout Jenna Bartsokas made a visit to campus this week. In May she completed her requirements for a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio. After passing her board exams she is taking a few weeks off before starting a residency in Greenville, South Carolina. Bartsokas received a B.S. degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from Lipscomb in 2011. As a player she excelled on the court earning Atlantic Sun Female Athlete of the Year as a senior. As a four-year starter she finished as Lipscomb's second all-time scorer in the NCAA Division I era with 1, 411 points (11.9 per game) and second in career assists with 295. She finished with a 3.95 overall GPA. She was honored during the 2013-2014 basketball season as a "Lipscomb Legend". During her time on campus she talked with lipscombsports.com.
What years did you play basketball at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played from 2007-2011. My coach was Frank Bennett. My assistant coaches were Billy Snell, Katie Beth Allen, Lynsie Blau and Krystle Horton."
You attended Independence High School in Franklin, Tennessee. Why did you choose to attend Lipscomb?
"I wanted to play basketball. That is what made me look at Lipscomb initially. But when I came here for a visit and met the players and the coaches I really felt at home. It was a feeling I couldn't ignore.
"The Christian atmosphere of the school was important. I was around players and coaches whose morals lined up with mine. I also knew the academics were strong here.
"When doors closed, Lipscomb's door stayed open. I just went to where I felt led. It was where I found myself at the end of the process. I wouldn't change it for the world."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"Any time we beat Belmont was a favorite memory. I think we beat them more times than they beat us while I was here. We played a really close game with Belmont at our place. We played before a men's game, so late in the game we had a good crowd. Any time we could win in front of a good crowd was very rewarding. It was a way to give back to all the fans and all the people that supported us."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"I can't just single our one person.
"Obviously, Coach Bennett and all of the other coaches I had when I was here definitely supported me. They helped keep the love of basketball in me throughout my time here. A lot of people get burned out and are just going through the motions at the end. They always made me feel very comfortable as a player.
"Coach Bennett just truly cares about his players. In his eyes we weren't just basketball players. He wanted to see us grow in other areas of life. I think he treated us like he treated his own kids. I could have had a coach that was a screamer and a yeller who belittled people. But that was not coach Bennett at all. I am thankful for that.
"I would not have met Beth and Zac Stark if I had not come to Lipscomb to play basketball. They also helped me grow as a player here with the amount of time they poured into me. They allowed me to come and help them with their AAU girls (15-16) team. I got to see a different way of coaching and teaching the game.
"How I met them was so random. Beth had visited school my freshman year. She had her son, Nash, with her in his stroller. We started talking. I told her if she ever needed to babysitter to call me up and she did. I babysat for them a couple of times.
"They would come to our games. They were diehard Lipscomb fans. Win or lose they were there supporting us. They would give me pointers.
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"I am still great friends with a lot of the girls I lived with here - Kate Spellman, Lacey Cross, Amy Stagliano and Emma Scanlon. I lived with them in apartment. Just hanging out with them and not really doing anything were my favorite times. I really did find life-long friends here. I still keep in touch with some of the people I graduated with."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"I grew more as a person than I would ever imagined in my four years here. I think that had a lot to do with being on a team and being so close to the girls and dealing with all of the ups and downs that go with being a part of a team.
"I grew in my faith here. That was due in part to my coaches and my professors…just the people I was surrounded by here. It is very unique. I don't think I would find as many people like me at another university.
"I learned that sports did not define me which was huge. It helped me when I left basketball after my senior year. I was more proud of being identified as a strong Christian and good person. That is something that was really instilled in me here."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"I would have to say Kent Johnson and Ruth Henry in the exercise science department.
"Ruth Henry was so much fun in class. And she would have us over to her house and cook for us each year. We would walk right over to her house right across from Lipscomb. She taught me more about yoga and step aerobics than I ever thought I would know.
"Dr. Johnson really pushed me in the classroom. He never really let me feel like I was in my comfort zone in his classes. After finishing physical therapy school I appreciate him even more. The exercise science department here is very strong and prepares you well for physical therapy school."
Where do you live now?
"I am moving to Greenville, South Carolina. I went to Walsh University, a Catholic school in North Canton, Ohio, the past three years.
"Going into my senior year at Lipscomb I visited the school for an open house. I fell in love with it. I thought I didn't want to do the small school thing again, but the past three years have been amazing. The school is very similar to Lipscomb. I couldn't ignore the feeling of how perfect it was for me. I loved it."
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I have accepted an orthopedic residency in physical therapy at Proaxis in Greenville. I will be working in an out-patient orthopedic clinic treating general aches and pains of adults and people who have had total knee or hip replacements or shoulder surgeries."
My email address is email@example.com.