BYU women's soccer head coach Jennifer Rockwood celebrates with her team after a win at South Field. Rockwood reached her 400th win at BYU on March 6. (Addie Blacker)

Rockwood reaches 400th win with BYU women’s soccer

BYU women’s soccer head coach Jennifer Rockwood reached her 400th win at BYU on March 6 against Loyola Marymount, putting her among the winningest coaches in the NCAA.

The milestone came in Rockwood’s 26th season with the Cougars, putting No. 14 BYU at 4-2 on the season, and 400-116-44 under the long-time head coach. Fewer than 25 coaches in NCAA women’s soccer history have reached the 400-win threshold.

“I just can’t believe I have been doing this for so long,” Rockwood said. “I’m not that old.”

The BYU women’s soccer team gathers around head coach Jennifer Rockwood during a game against Utah. Rockwood got her 400th win with BYU on March 6. (Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)

Rockwood was born in Provo while her parents were attending BYU. Her father worked for BYU Police, and when her mother went into labor, BYU Police cars took her to the Utah Valley Hospital.

Rockwood grew up in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and began playing sports in rec leagues at the age of six. 

She was quite athletic and played four different sports in high school, including soccer and basketball. She really enjoyed soccer, but there were not many opportunities to play soccer collegiately.

“Soccer wasn’t huge in the west yet,” Rockwood said. 

After graduating in 1984 she decided to attend Ricks College, where she played basketball for the school. She was interested in going to school around more like-minded people as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after growing up where there were few in Oregon.

In 1985, after her first year at Ricks College, Rockwood transferred to BYU to play for the women’s soccer club team. She played for the club team for the remainder of her college career and even took on a player-manager role her senior year. 

“I did a lot of behind the scenes stuff as a junior and senior,” Rockwood said. This opportunity was her introduction to coaching women’s soccer.

After graduating, Rockwood thought she would be leaving Utah behind. However, she took her first official coaching job at a private high school in Provo, where she was also teaching. While working at the school, she continued to work with the women’s club team at BYU.

Coach Rockwood, second from left, talks with her players in 2019. Rockwood began gaining experience as a coach and manager during her senior season with the club team at BYU. (Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)

“I had great opportunities coming out of graduation,” Rockwood said. “I was probably the cheapest, youngest person that knew what was going on. Someone had confidence in me.”

Over the seven years she coached the women’s club team she recorded 128 wins, 25 losses and nine ties. In the final two years before being sanctioned by the NCAA, she led the team to the Western National Collegiate Club Soccer Association title and placed second in the NCCSA National Championships.

BYU women’s soccer was sanctioned in 1995 and Rockwood has stood at the helm for all 26 seasons. She has led the team to 13 regular season championships and eight conference tournament championships over her tenure. She has coached 13 seasons being ranked in the Top 25 while being placed in the Top 10 in six of those seasons, the most recent being fifth in 2019. She has also led the Cougars to 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, reaching the Sweet Sixteen six times and the Elite Eight three times.

The BYU women’s soccer team celebrates the WCC Championship in 2019. The Cougars have won regular-season championships in 13 of Rockwood’s 26 seasons at BYU. (Hannah Miner)

Rockwood has also been named conference coach of the year seven different times across three conferences: Western Athletic, Mountain West and West Coast. In 1996 and 2012 she was named Regional Coach of the Year and in 2019 her coaching staff was recognized as the United Soccer Coaches Regional Staff of the Year.

Over the years, Rockwood has been able to build one of the best women’s soccer programs in the country, creating a winning mentality that has attracted many great players to BYU. 

“It doesn’t matter how good of a coach you are, you won’t be able to be successful (without the right players),” Rockwood said. “We want kids and players who are wanting to come to BYU for all the right reasons. They put more into it when they want to come here.”

Rockwood gets showered by her players following a win at South Field. Rockwood reached her 400th win with the Cougars on March 6. (BYU Photo)

Senior forward Cameron Tucker has played at BYU for four years and has enjoyed the fun atmosphere playing for Rockwood.

“She’s super fun and great to be around and she teaches great values,” Tucker said. “She motivates and pushes me and she’s helped me gain more confidence.”

Relationships with players and staff have been the most rewarding part of coaching for Rockwood.

“Looking at a group of seniors and seeing them come full circle, those are some of the things you remember more than the wins and the losses,” Rockwood said.

The BYU women’s soccer team huddles before a match at South Field. Rockwood said seeing a group of players go from freshmen to seniors is more rewarding than any win. (BYU Photo)

“She’s awesome,” sophomore forward Rachel McCarthy said. “She’s always pumping us up. You can just tell how much confidence she has in each of us. She believes in us.”

Rockwood feels blessed and humbled to do what she loves and be successful in her career.

“To be listed among (the top coaches), I feel humbled to be part of a few in an elite group,” Rockwood said.

Expectations for this season and for the future are the same as always for BYU: win the WCC Championship and get into the NCAA Tournament.

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