Jess Santos Promoted to Co-Head Coach
TEMPE, Ariz. – After five seasons of working to build Sun Devil Gymnastics to a top-10 program alongside Jay Santos, Jessica Santos has been promoted to co-head coach, elevating her position from associate head coach.
"I am very humbled and grateful for this opportunity," Jess Santos said. "I would like to thank Ray Anderson and my administrators for elevating me into this position. The support that Jay and I have received over the past five years does not go unnoticed and I am looking forward to continuing this journey. I am proud of what we have accomplished so far but we certainly see more potential with this team and I am excited to keep building."
This is the first head coach title Jess Santos has held in her career. She has previously been an associate head coach and assistant coach. She is the sixth head coach in program history.
"I am extremely excited about this announcement and opportunity for Jess," Jay Santos said. "This promotion is so well deserved; since coming to ASU in 2016, Jess has been integral in the rapid ascent of our program back into national prominence. From day one she has been a driving force to elevate Sun Devil Gymnastics in every aspect of how we operate. Her passion for this program and its student-athletes, coaching expertise and strong leadership have significantly contributed to the success and rise of the Gym Devils. I can't say enough of how happy I am for her to have this opportunity and continue to lead this program to even greater heights in the future!"
Since coming to Tempe in May 2016, Jess Santos has helped bring Arizona State to new heights. She and Jay have built the team from a No. 41 final ranking in 2017 to the No. 9 finish in 2021. They have coached two All-Americans in Cairo Leonard-Baker (3x) and Hannah Scharf (2x), helping both to qualify for the NCAA Championships as individuals (Leonard-Baker in 2018, 2019 and 2021, Scharf in 2021). Jess Santos has earned three regional assistant coach of the year awards in her career: 2007 with Pittsburgh, 2016 with Eastern Michigan and 2021 with Arizona State. With the Sun Devils, she has coached bars and beam while being the recruiting coordinator.
"I'm pleased to announce the elevation of Jessica Santos to co-head coach of our women's gymnastics team," said Vice President For University Athletics Ray Anderson. "As I've stated, we have certain expectations when looking for head coaches and when we hired Jay, along with his wife Jessica, we did so because we determined they fit into the culture we promote within Sun Devil Athletics. It's my expectation elevating her to this enhanced role will allow both of them to continue to promote an environment in which our student-athletes will thrive, not only competitively, but as young adults. I look forward to watching them continue to shape our program and the young adults they've been entrusted to lead."
Jess and the Gym Devils saw a historic season in 2021 as she helped Arizona State to its most successful season in 15 years, wrapping up the year ranked No. 9 on Road to Nationals, the best finish since 2006. The team ended the season with an NQS of 197.088 and finished in fourth in the Pac-12 regular season standings as well as in the Pac-12 Championship, making the night session for the first time.
Under her and Jay's guidance, the team has qualified for NCAA Regionals from 2018-2021, improving each season since arriving to Tempe prior to the 2017 season. ASU has also finished in the top 25 on Road to Nationals for the past four seasons in a row. There have been 13 total All-Pac-12 honors, 15 Pac-12 weekly awards, 39 Pac-12 academic awards and 45 WCGA Scholastic All-America nods.
Before Arizona State, Jess coached at Eastern Michigan, University of Illinois-Champaign, Iowa State and Pittsburgh. She was a student-athlete herself at West Virginia, where she was also a volunteer assistant and earned her master's degree. She was also an elite gymnast prior to college.