Jami Coughlin Feature Story
Oct. 1, 2001
There are student-athletes who excel on the field of athletic competition and in the classroom... and then there is Jami Coughlin. Arizona State University's senior outside hitter is of All-American caliber on the volleyball court and in the classroom.
Coughlin, a senior from Glendale, Ariz., who has been a four-year starter for the Sun Devils since arriving in 1998 from Moon Valley High School, isn't your quintessential big-time volleyball player, but for this outside hitter, putting up big numbers is just part of her game.
Coughlin, who is averaging 4.05 kills and 3.14 digs per game in 2001 (both lead ASU), continues to climb up the charts in the ASU and Pac-10 record books. Coughlin is currently ranked first among active Pac-10 players with 1,254 digs, a mark that is already fifth best in school history. With 16 digs vs. Oregon State (9/22), Coughlin passed current ASU assistant coach Christine Garner on the all-time digs list to move into fifth place.. Coughlin's 1,161 career kills stands at ninth in the ASU record books, averaging 3.33 kills per game during her career in the Maroon and Gold.
'I don't really look at the stats and all of the awards,' said Coughlin, who is known for her modesty among her teammates. 'I know when I have a good match and I know when things are going well for me on the court, and both of those usually revolve around my defense.'
Despite not looking at her stats or not paying attention to her bright spot in ASU volleyball history, Coughlin's remarkable figures deserve some attention. Often over-shadowed by AVCA All-American Amanda Burbridge over the last three years, Coughlin joined elite company last December when she became only the eighth Sun Devil in school history join the 1,000 kill, 1,000 dig club. That list represents the best that have taken to court in the programs illustrious 29-years, including names like Christy Nore, Mindy Gowell-Rich, Terri Cox, Burbridge and Garner.
'I have had a great time in my career at ASU and I couldn't imagine a better place to compete at the highest level for volleyball and at the same time gain my college degree,' said Coughlin.
While her on-court statistics are impressive, they don't quiet equal up to her impressive 4.0 GPA in the classroom as a special education major. Coughlin has not earned a 'B' since arriving on campus in Tempe, and vows it has been all they way back to seventh grade since she last received anything less than an 'A' on a report card.
'I have always taken my academics seriously and now it is just part of me,' said the Sun Devil senior co-captain. 'I am a perfectionist and won't settle for anything less. My family and friends kind of joke around with me about the 4.0, but it is just something that I strive for and want to achieve.'
Coughlin has been recognized for her academic prowess, gaining All-Pac-10 Academic honors each of the past two seasons and last year was named to the Verizon Academic All-America team.
For Coughlin, academics she explains is just part of her duty as an ASU volleyball player, after all she says, 'that is why we are here.' But for so many athletes that have taken to the court for the Sun Devils, academics have been a long-standing tradition. Twenty-four players have earned Academic All-America honors for the ASU volleyball program since 1986, second only to Stanford, which has earned 26 Academic All-America honors during the same period.
While the rigors of classes, practices and competition are enough to weigh down any student-athlete, Coughlin has taken her academic commitment one step farther, currently performing an internship that often has her in either the classroom, at the internship or on the court for better than 10 each day, not counting studying.
Combining the academics and on-court accolades, what you get in Jami Coughlin is an all-around athlete. Described by 13-year ASU head coach Patti Snyder-Park as the 'complete package,' Coughlin brings a multitude of talents to the court for Arizona State every match.
'I pride myself on being an all-around player,' said Coughlin. 'But the one part of my game I really take seriously and feel is my strongest asset to the team is my defense. If I have a good offensive game, but don't play well on defense, then I don't consider it a good match.'
As ASU's starting outside hitter, her offense is potent enough to command constant double-teams from opponents, but it is her defense that creates the most havoc. When asked what is a better feeling, hitting a ball off a perfect set for a kill that blows past the opponent, or digging a ball that was almost unreachable, Coughlin had an easy answer.
'Without question, digging a ball that an opponent thought they had for a kill, just barely getting a hand on it and popping it up perfectly so we can go get a point,' said Coughlin, who finished second in the Pac-10 and 30th in the nation with 4.00 digs per game in 2000. 'That is just the best feeling because you know it frustrates the heck out of them and it was a ball you were not supposed to get to, but somehow you got to it and kept the rally alive.'
Coughlin in 2001: So far in 2001, Coughlin's label as an all-around player hasn't rubbed off. Ranked in the top 10 in the Pac-10 in both kills and digs, Coughlin is averaging 4.05 kills and 3.14 digs. She has recorded at least 10 kills in each of ASU's 10 matches (thru 9/23) and has tallied six matches with double-digits in both kills and digs. With 17 more matches in her career, the senior needs 344 more digs to set the school record and 232 more kills to move into the top five in school history.
ASU Career Digs (as of 9/23/01)1. Christy Nore 1,5972. Mindy Gowell 1,3653. Terri Cox 1,3824. Leanne Schuster 1,2845. Jami Coughlin 1,2546. Christine Garner 1,253