Huntington Hired as New Varsity Girls’ Basketball Coach
St. Johnsbury Academy Athletic Director John Lenzini has announced the hiring of Jade Huntington as the varsity girls’ basketball coach. Huntington will take over from Jack Driscoll, who retired this week after 26 years and 301 wins in the position.
Lenzini said, “Jade Huntington is a fantastic educator who has already left an indelibly positive mark on Academy students since joining the SJA community in 2014. I am thrilled that a coach of her caliber will be working with our student athletes. Jade is one of, if not the most, successful women’s basketball players to come out of Vermont. She will be bringing a wealth of experience, including 10+ years of DI collegiate and professional women’s basketball coaching, to our girls’ program.”
Huntington is no stranger to Vermont basketball fans. She is a 1988 graduate of Oxbow High School in Bradford, where she led the team to three state titles and a 68-0 team win streak that has only just recently been eclipsed by the CVU team. Jade is also the state’s leading scorer in girls’ basketball history with 2,114 points. In 1988 she was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for Vermont, and in 2014 she was inducted into the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame.
Jade’s skills and accomplishments on the court earned her a full scholarship to Vanderbilt University, where she received her B.S. in organizational development and her Master of Education in developmental counseling. In addition, she played on a team that reached the NCAA tournament in all four of her undergrad years. In 1990 and 1991, the team reached the Sweet Sixteen, and in 1992 they reached the Elite Eight. Other basketball accomplishments included two-time defensive player of the year, 4th all-time assist leader in the school’s history, All-Academic SEC 1990-1992, and SEC student-athlete representative.
Jade’s coaching resume is as long and impressive as her playing accomplishments. From 1992-1994 she served as a graduate assistant coach at Vanderbilt, where the team won the Southeastern Conference Championship and advanced to the final four in 1993.
After her final year at Vanderbilt, Jade played one year of professional basketball in Wolfenbuttel, Germany, before signing on as an assistant at the University of Nevada, Reno. From 1994 to 1997, some of Jade’s responsibilities included scouting, junior college and high school recruiting, guard development, pre-season conditioning, directing individual/team camps, and practice. The team won the Eastern Division title of the Big West Conference in 1996-1997 and had the top recruiting class in the conference in that same year.
Jade moved on to Colorado State University in 1997 and served as an assistant there until 1999, the same year the team was ranked nationally in the top 5 and finished with a 33-3 record—the best in school history. In 1998 and 1999, they won the Mountain Division Conference and advanced to the NCAA second round (1998) and the Sweet Sixteen (1999).
In 1999, Jade joined Utah Valley State College as an assistant—developing, coaching, and preparing student-athletes to compete at the college level. The team was named Conference Champions and won the National Junior College Championships in 2001, Jade’s final year in the program.
The Colorado Chill of the Women’s Professional League (NWBL) named Jade their head coach in 2004, their inaugural season. Her primary responsibilities included organizing, directing, and developing a staff and team at the highest level to achieve maximum success. The team won the regular-season title and were the runners-up in the league championship series in 2004.
Jade’s athletic career returned her to Vermont when she was named the athletic director at Thetford Academy in 2010. In 2011 she was also named the dean of students and served in that capacity until 2014 when she became the assistant athletic director at St. Johnsbury Academy. Many local athletes first met Jade during the camps she organized on the school’s campus every summer. She has also been coaching in the Mini-Metro Youth League and AAU basketball for local youth for the past three years.
In 2018 she transitioned from the athletic department to working part of her day with Campus Life and part of the day as teacher in the SJA’s Special Services Department.
Headmaster Dr. Sharon Howell said, “We are grateful to Jade for stepping up, and excited to have her expertise and positive energy in the mix in this challenging time.”
Assistant Headmaster for Campus Life Beth Choiniere, who coached with Jack Driscoll since 1997 added, “I have had the opportunity to work closely with Jade in the Campus Life Office, and what I know to be true beyond basketball, is that Jade understands who we are as a school, our mission, and what we as a community value. Jade fully embraces the development of young people, as she has served on many levels as a bridge between our recreational programs and our middle school development programs. Jade will lead by example in the promotion of our three main ideals: commitment, competitiveness, and classiness. We are fortunate to have someone of her experience and accomplishments take on such an important role in leading young women both on and off the court.”
As she embarks on this chapter of her coaching career, Jade recognizes the strength of the program while preparing for the season. She said, “Coach Driscoll’s career has been remarkable. His dedication to the Academy basketball program laid a strong foundation, leaving his distinct mark on basketball in Vermont. I want to continue the legacy of commitment to hard work and excellence that has become a tradition here in Hilltopper Nation. Throughout my basketball career I have been fortunate to be surrounded by great people, great coaches, and great athletes, and the Academy is no exception. I want to continue to build on the success of the program by providing our student-athletes with the tools and experiences they need to be successful on and off the court. I am excited for this coaching opportunity and really looking forward to working with my staff, Beth Choiniere, Patricia Lang, and Laurie Lang to develop our high school teams and youth programming in the area. I can’t wait to get started in the gym with our athletes, a group that I know loves this game as much as I do and who are willing to work and compete to be the best they can be.”