MISSOULA — There have been plenty of new elements to the Montana Lady Griz basketball team.
Brian Holsinger was hired as the program's new head coach back in March, while Nate Harris and Joslyn Tinkle were added as assistant coaches not long after in their first stints at the university.
But the Lady Griz have one constant in fellow assistant coach Jordan Sullivan, who has been a staple in a program that has seen its fair share of change over the last two years.
Now, the Sidney native and former Lady Griz standout player is the longest-tenured coach on the staff after being retained by Holsinger as his first coaching hire.
"You have to explore other options because you don't know what's going to happen and you try to have a plan and a backup plan. I actually turned some jobs down before I had this job because I really just believe in this place and wanted a chance and had to at least try to exhaust my opportunity to get on this staff," Sullivan said. "It’s nerve-wracking but you hope it works out but I also never had an expectation that I would be here. I’ve tried to work hard and be here so it’s just about staying on the grind and trying to be a part of it."
It wasn't that long ago when Sullivan herself was a rookie coach. Hired by former head coach Shannon Schweyen as the director of operations in 2016, Sullivan was then promoted to full-time assistant in 2017.
She remained on staff with interim coach Mike Petrino last year during the pandemic season, and after the initial rounds of interviews and applications, Sullivan was Holsinger's first hire for his staff.
"I just feel so fortunate because I've gotten to be on multiple staffs that I work well with and get along with," Sullivan said. "I've learned and continue to learn with who I'm working with. I've just taken away something different from everybody, assistants and head coaches on every staff, so I'm very fortunate to still be here and very thankful to still be here and I'm looking forward to learning more from Brian, Joslyn and Nate."
"(She's) Lady Griz to a T," Holsinger added. "She's really talented and super smart. She was in law school and decided to give law school up and coach. Then she decides to get her MBA while she's coaching. So she's really smart and organized. She has an unbelievable future in coaching. She can do anything and be anything she wants to be and I'm thankful that she decided to stay and be a part of our staff here. She's just gifted beyond belief."
Sullivan also retains her role as recruiting coordinator with UM as the team moves forward. In that role and overall as a coach, Sullivan has come a long way as her career continues to progress.
"It’s so surprising what this side of the game looks like and how much thought and detail go into every little bit of it," Sullivan said. "I just have felt myself gaining confidence in how I coach our players and I just know the importance of relationships with recruiting and have a lot of fun doing that part of the job. I love recruiting, I love talking to young women and building those relationships."
Now, Sullivan will work alongside her peers as the program moves forward. Tinkle and Sullivan also go way back when the duo went to Lady Griz camps as kids and also played AAU basketball together.
For Sullivan, it's all about providing women the same opportunities she was afforded when she herself was a player.
"I’ve believed in this place since I was a little girl and then I got to come experience this program myself and it’s just shaped me in ways that I just long for other people to come get that experience here and if I can be a part of that for as long as I can that’s what I want to do," Sullivan said. "I’m so proud of this university and this program and I hope that comes across when I recruit people and try to get them to come here and have that same or similar experience."