JENNIFER FLOWERS - WCHA VICE PRESIDENT AND WOMEN'S LEAGUE COMMISSIONER
Jennifer Flowers returns for her third season as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's Vice President and Women's League Commissioner in 2021-22.
Flowers guided the WCHA through the challenging COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020-21 season. The WCHA was the first women’s league to return to the ice and the efforts paid off as Wisconsin won the league’s 18th National Championship in March. Both Ohio State and Minnesota Duluth also advanced to the Frozen Four. Flowers continued to elevate the student-athlete voice with the addition of “Commissioner’s Corner”. The weekly recording saw Flowers interview student-athletes from across the league, as well as many special guests. The WCHA celebrated National Girls and Women in Sports Day with a weeklong celebration of women in the WCHA. Each WCHA team features at least one woman on the bench and those women were part of interviews and stories that ran throughout the week.
The season also saw 12 WCHA games appear on television through agreements with Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Wisconsin, including a Hockey Day Minnesota appearance for Minnesota and Ohio State as the two teams met on the outdoor ice at Parade Stadium in Minneapolis in January and the WCHA Final Faceoff Championship Game between the Buckeyes and Wisconsin in March. The postseason saw four players earn CCM/AHCA All-America honors and Wisconsin senior Abby Roque pickup USCHO and USA Hockey Player of the Year honors. Five WCHA alumni were also selected in the NWHL draft in April.
Flowers’ first year was capped off with the announcement that the University of St. Thomas will join the WCHA 2021. The move will return the WCHA to eight member institutions in 2021-22. The league was an eight-team circuit from 2004-05 through 2016-17.
Flowers hit the ground running during the run-up to the 2019-20 season, visiting all seven WCHA campuses prior to the start of the campaign to introduce herself to coaches, student-athletes and staff at each institution.
She has continued to engage with the league's many stakeholders throughout her first season, with a special focus on WCHA student-athletes. That engagement has given league players a stronger voice in on- and off-ice issues.
Flowers, who was introduced as the WCHA's fourth Women's League Commissioner on June 3, 2019, joined the WCHA from the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, where she served as that league's Assistant Commissioner for Membership Services from 2016-19.
At the NSIC, Flowers focused on the internal service of the membership and league stakeholders. She served as the office liaison in support of the NSIC senior women's administrators, faculty athletic representatives, Student-Athlete Advisory Committees and officials coordinators. Flowers was responsible for assisting with strategic plan implementation with a commitment to academics and life skills, athletics operations and compliance, diversity and inclusion, game day, championships, membership and positioning. She had championship oversight of volleyball, swimming & diving, basketball and softball. The Manson, Iowa, native was also closely involved in sponsorship and corporate partner initiatives during her time with the NSIC.
Flowers served on the NCAA Women's Volleyball Rules Committee, is the Co-Chair of the Minnesota Coalition for Women in Athletic Leadership and continues to serve as a mentor in the Women Leaders in College Sports mentoring program.
Flowers led an NSIC committee that created the league's first transgender student-athlete participation guidelines and coordinated the launch of the league's SAAC Cup, which was designed to encourage engagement of campus Student-Athlete Advisory Councils. She developed and implemented the NSIC Women's Coaches Symposium in 2017, which has since been rebranded the NSIC Women's Leadership Symposium. Flowers also oversaw the creation of the NSIC Elite 18 Award, which recognizes the student-athlete with the top GPA in each of the league's sponsored sports.
Flowers was an assistant women's basketball and volleyball coach at Simpson College during the 2005-06 season. She helped guide Simpson's women's basketball team to the Iowa Conference regular season and tournament championships while equaling the program's record for wins in a season. Flowers helped coach three players to all-conference honors. She also helped guide the volleyball program to a 21-14 record and a second-place finish at the conference tournament.
She spent the 2004-05 academic year at the University of Minnesota where she was the assistant to the associate athletic director. At Minnesota she was the assistant championship manager for four NCAA Championships and one WCHA Championship. She also was the assistant game director for Minnesota's Music City Bowl appearance in 2004.
Flowers and her husband, Jonte, reside in Burnsville with their two children – Ayanna and Kellen.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT JENNIFER FLOWERS
Josh Berlo, Director of Athletics, University of Minnesota Duluth (Selection Committee member)
"Jennifer Flowers is an exceptional hire for the WCHA. She will be a great leader for the league and a strong role model for the young women in our respective programs. Having worked closely with her during her time at the NSIC, I am confident in a bright future for the WCHA Women's League under her leadership."
John Harrington, Head Women's Hockey Coach, Minnesota State University (Selection Committee member)
"Jennifer stood out among an outstanding group of finalists. Her previous experience in administration with coaches, athletic directors and faculty representatives shows she can build relationships and involve key stakeholders in the decision-making process. Her vision to continually address and improve the student-athlete experience in the WCHA is important as we move forward under her leadership."
Erin Lind, Commissioner, Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference
"I would like to start by thanking Jen for her service to the NSIC. She has been and will continue to be an outstanding leader. She elevated our league in many ways, but most importantly, she always puts the best interest of the student-athletes first. We wish her the best with the WCHA."
Marc Ryan, Senior Associate Athletics Director, University of Minnesota
"This is a great opportunity for Jennifer and a tremendous hire by the WCHA. She is a talented, passionate and innovative leader who will help bring the league to even greater heights in the future."