Notre Dame Associate Head Coach April Jensen Won’t Return Next Season

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are on the market for a new assistant coach as a result of April Jensen not returning to the program next season. This is one of two openings on the Notre Dame swimming & diving staff, with head diving coach Caiming Xie announcing his retirement in March after 25 years leading that side of the program.

Jensen was promoted to associate head coach before the 2017-2018 season, a role that she held for 3 years as part of 5 total seasons with the program. She joined the program as April Woo in 2015 as part of a new staff for the Irish when Mike Litzinger became head coach.

Jensen started coaching at Cleveland State and worked there while earning her masters degree. After Cleveland State, she spent three years at Florida Gulf Coast before taking a volunteer position with Stanford for the 2014-2015 season, when the Cardinal finished 3rd at the NCAA Championships. Jensen swam for the University of the Pacific from 2005-2009 and was a captain during her senior year.

Before coming to Notre Dame, Jensen was a recipient of the Jean Freeman award from the CSCAA: an award given to a male and female assistant coach in each NCAA division whose contributions have brought recognition to the respective colleges or university, and whose honesty, leadership and integrity reflects the characteristics of Jean Freeman.

Jensen and her husband Brent had their first child, Avery, on December 8, 2019.

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Dazed

Northwestern?

Tabahn Afrik

If northwestern is smart at all, they will not hire this woman. I swam under her for 3 years at ND and graduated last May (2019). In my own experience and from what I observed from the majority of my teammates, she was Impossible to work with, changed taper on a whim, Repeatedly emotionally unstable, and very seldom listened to her athletes needs. My freshman year, April tried to convince me that if I did not accept her request to follow me on social media (Instagram), that I was violating NCAA rules. Which is blatantly false. No she was not joking. Deep down i think she’s a good person. But one of, if not the worst, coach I have ever… Read more »

Coach ID

Dude, c’mon… not the place for this

Oldcoach

Where is the place for it? You asked, he told his experience. So sick of the swim community trying to play all “This isn’t the place” or “ Coach so and so said they were staying!”
This is a business, stop acting like all coaches are the best thing since sliced bread when in fact many are as dull as a butterknife.”
This sport could seriously benefit from this type of drama, but alas, it will die a slow death because all of the “purist” and “right way” people.

Ol' Longhorn

I think I swam for Dull as a Butterknife once.

CoachClassy

Dialogue on female coaches: Impossible to work with = wasn’t my friend/mom Emotionally unstable = showed an emotion and I was uncomfortable with it Seldom listened to her athletes needs = is it needs or wants? And end decision tends to be in favor of good of the team and not one person. Instagram follow – interesting, and was the goal to make sure you weren’t doing anything violating NCAA protocols? And why were you so bothered she sees your account? If you wouldn’t let coach see it you are posting inappropriate items. And please comment on your own experience and try not to bring an invisible army with you. You may have not “liked” a coach, that is why… Read more »

Tabahn Afrik

I have absolutely nothing against female coaches. That is not at all my intention. A good coach is a good coach and a bad coach is a bad coach. Regardless of gender. I have had many male and female coaches in my career and I know the difference. I said what I said because I meant it. I have had female coaches who did not mother me, or treat me as a friend, but were still amazing coaches. They did not cry when they pulled me into their office to have a conversation. As for my social media. No, nothing on there worth hiding. If you know me you know I don’t drink. I have never done drugs, or committed… Read more »

Swimpop

I appreciated the honesty and transparency. Thank you.

From my read of the article, she likely asked for the head coaches job, was told no thank you and read the writing on the wall. << now that's pure speculation and unfounded theories from some one with one article read to base his opinion on, you're welcome.

CoachClassy

Most common complaints and dialogue about female coaches were listed in your conversation. I was responding to those. These are commonly posted on this site amongst others. Male or female, these complaints still equal the message listed. You gave only one example in your story of a time you struggled with this coach and it was over instagram from your freshman year. No examples to your other comments that paint this coach in an unfavorable light. What made her specifically a “bad coach?” For those reading keep in mind this is 1 SA experience, and he even tried to remove value from a teammate’s experience and view on her (does not matter if they quit or not). And I do… Read more »

Blastman

Tabahn, my son graduated from ND a few years before you came on campus, but there were coaching issues with unstable male coaches then. One resigned, and one was placed on administrative leave. I know that you are speaking out to make the program that you love and swam so well for, much better.

I can’t speak towards the issues that this young lady had; I hope that she excels in her future endeavors.

If you are correct in your assessment, I hope your teammates from your time on the team step up and speak on your behalf. Go Irish!

Ayyyyeeee

“Coach Classy” more like coach classless! haha burn! but for real, that’s some BS. Unless you have direct ties to this team and staff, you’re defending someone who was accused of being a bad coach on the merit that they’re a women…acting like every women ever has been a good coach when like the others said gender has nothing to do with this, until you tried to make it about that. People are kind or not, regardless of their skin color, and people can be good or bad coaches, regardless of their gender. Grow up. Absolutely pathetic.

Coach

I doubt Joe Burrows is trashing Coach O on a public forum for demanding to follow him on instagram. Monitoring student-athlete social media accounts is pretty standard at many major universities.

TBC

Joe Burrow and Coach O seemed to have a pretty good and successful relationship. Maybe that’s the difference?

Pennsylvania Tuxedo

Coach O has a great relationship with everyone, including Ray Baker.

Ol' Longhorn

Maybe Joe Burrow is coachable. Some aren’t.

Ol' Longhorn

Coach O is definitely emotionally stable.

Dan

There are some schools that have it as a policy that the athlete have to have their social media account open (friended) with their athletic department (could be a coach). I have no idea what ND has as a policy.

whysomad

There will always be differing opinions on coaches, but all of those opinions should still be respected. I don’t think Tabahn’s post “trashes” Coach April. I highly doubt schools or clubs are making hiring decisions based on swimswam comments. I appreciate him sharing his personal experiences as that is much more meaningful to me than random commenters with little to no involvement with the coach refuting everything he says with theoretical answers or for some reason shoving the blame for his complaints on to him. I have seen the other comments from other teammates and I will have to follow April’s career more closely in the future to actually make an opinion of her. But for people to start trashing… Read more »

Tabahn Afrik

^^^ This is it!

This is ALL that I was after. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Fluidg

If she’s already leaving ND, what’s the point of your post? You’re really using a SwimSwam forum to warn other schools not to hire her? Why would you do that to a person other than to hurt them and try to get even. It’s not because you love your school. I doubt you care who Northwestern hires. You’re doing it for your own satisfaction. It doesn’t matter if your assessment is valid or not. This is the wrong time and place to voice your opinions. Her coaching career is none of your business anymore. What? Everyone is fair game? Would you want someone who doesn’t like you to be trashing your character and putting it out in the world? This… Read more »

Tabahn Afrik

I’m a firm believer that If I have ever done something to someone that gives them the opportunity to assess me the way I have assessed April, and they chose to voice that, then it is their right to do so. In my opinion, everyone is absolutely be fair game. A conversation should be had, as long as the conversation is honest

Tabahn Afrik

If Northwestern is smart, they will not hire this woman. I swam under April for 3 years and graduated ND last May (2019). From my own experiences and from those I have observed happening to my teammates, she has proven to be emotionally unstable, difficult to work with/talk to, and refuses listen to her athletes needs. My freshman year, April tried to convince me that if I did not accept her request to follow me on social media (instagram), that I was violating NCAA rules and could be withheld from competing. This is just blatantly false. I believe deep down she is a good person, but a terrible coach. To those who don’t know me, this may come off as… Read more »

Coach

That’s a pretty hurtful statement to post.

kevinm

true, but he did use his real name (hopefully swimswam has verified based on the email address)…. versus the countless folks that toss stuff like that out and hide behind an alias.

i don’t know the situation at all, and hate to see any negativity without a chance to defend.

Tabahn Afrik

I am who It says I am. I love my school. I love my team, and I love the sport of swimming. I’m not afraid of telling the truth and having my name tied to it. I also have no problem with questions or concerns people will have. I’m here to answer and talk to yall about it. I’m sure I have disappointed a lot of coaches or people who know me in the swim world with my words today. But at the end of the day, I said what I felt needed to be said.

Taa

you are making it sound like it was a dumpster fire. Did she kick puppies around the pool deck? I think you could have made your point in a more professional manner. It comes across as being a little over emotional or an over reaction on your part.

Tabahn Afrik

Then please allow me to clarify. It was not a dumpster fire. There were no puppies being kicked. It was just bad coaching. And I am a firm believer that there is nothing wrong with being bad at something as long as there is an effort to improve. If what I said seemed like I was delivering an emotional response, that is because even after all this time, I partially am still emotional about this. and I apologize if that rubs you the wrong way. But my hope is that youll look beyond that. I urge you to take a look at the numbers. Take a look at the trajectory that some of these athletes were on coming into Aprils… Read more »

Wow

Out of curiosity, which swimmers does April coach? (e.g. male sprinters, female IM etc;?). Which coaches at ND coach which specific groups to shed some light onto who is improving/not improving.

PVSFree

Tabhan Afrik was a sprinter, so I’m assuming the sprint group. From my basic research, his statements track

Ol' Longhorn

I see 43.6 to 42.86. 1:37.0 to 1:35.47. 20.26 to 19.93. Sounds like terrible coaching to have time drops like that. Look, you didn’t live up to your expectations, and if it’s true about your weight gain going into your last ACCs, that’s on you.

JoeB.

Yes but! Look at the other swimmers that were in her group. Not just him. What he’s saying about other tracks. He’s telling the truth. If anything the fact that he’s saying this and he improved says more than if he didn’t improve and was saying this. It shows that even though he got better, he’s still speaking out on what he saw. They had an Great Britain gold medalist sprinter quit. Look at the numbers around just Tabahn. Also, dude his weight gain is going to fluctuate… he’s an athlete. It would be more concerning if he was the same weight freshman year going into his senior year ACCs as a sprinter.

Coach

You didn’t like her coaching style and you didn’t get the time drops you wanted, but it’s okay to try to publicly humiliate her and finish with “Wherever you go next, be better.”? I don’t know what you were hoping to accomplish by saying “what you felt needed to be said”, but your actions on a public forum were at the expense of another human being. And this is a human being that you admitted is a good person. I hope you find the peace that you are seeking. I also hope it doesn’t come at the expense of any other “good people.” We are having enough of a hard time finding “good people” for this profession as it is.

College Swimming

Look at all the great swimmers that were there since the new coaching staff took over. ACC and NCAA finalist either quitting or transferring (e.g. Zach Yeadon). Think this issue goes beyond just this. As you said numbers don’t lie.

Daniel Speers

Tabhan,
I’m pretty disappointed to see this comment. Whilst April and I did not always see eye to eye, I always respected her passion and commitment to her job and the sport of swimming. I have seen many coaches who have neither.
I think your statement shines an extremely biased light on the situation – and is neither constructive nor helpful.

Tabahn Afrik

Dan, I love you man, but in all fairness, you quit. You gave up. And there is nothing wrong with that, but for months I would visit you and hear the same exact thing come from you that is now coming from me. The difference is there when you said it, it was in front of people who you knew would agree with you, and when I said it, it was on a SwimSwam article in front of the entire swimming community. I will never deny Aprils passion for the sport. But I think having conversations about this are extremely constructive and helpful. To be perfectly clear, for everyone reading this… I want this to be seen. I want there… Read more »

asdagh

Hey man, I remember watching you come up in MI swimming back in the 2014-15 timeframe. I remember when you committed to ND and I was blown away. I remember tracking you (and many others for the record) and being surprised by the results. I think a lot of college swimmers become disillusioned with their coaches quite quickly. But they love their team and their teammates and they want to see the team succeed so they don’t speak out for fear of scaring recruits. I appreciate your words. Coaches shouldn’t have some cloud of secrecy that prevents them from being held accountable, even if they do have to make many hard decisions. One can debate the tastefulness of bringing this… Read more »

Tabahn Afrik

Everything I have said here today I have said to Aprils face. Every single word. I’m not sitting here today hiding behind my computer screen saying this for the first time. I put my name on these comments because I’d rather have my name tarnished in this community, or to have some people hate me, than to see another young swimmer with go through what me and some of my teammates had to go through.

Coach

I doubt you told her “next time, do better” or that she was too emotional to her face.

NDS Alum

Former teammates, I think we can all agree the issue is with the head coach, as the “culture shift” was a failure and resulted in the premature ending of far too many careers with no improvement in ACC standings.

Tabahn Afrik

I have no problem with Mike Litzinger. I was never coached by him, and I won’t sit here and speak from a position I have no experience with. If I am being completely honest, I think the head coach did the best he could with the position he was placed in at the beginning of his career at ND with the combining of the mens and womens team and a completely new coaching staff. The ONLY thing I am willing to speak on are my own experiences.

CO19

I have to respectfully disagree. Yes, you can talk about your personal experience, but I represent the team. Our morale was killed under Litzinger. It would be unfair to turn a blind out to what happened to our swimmers under his tenure. No other sports team has such a large exodus of people at one time without a reason. This enables people like his assistant coaches to act on the culture he created with their individual groups. It starts from leadership.

Tabahn Afrik

I mean… I also represent the team lol. but your opinion is yours to have. I dont agree, and I will defend Mike, when I can, but thats the beauty of conversation. We can agree to disagree

Dan

Not defending anyone and I have no insight, but there are a lot of swimmers going off to college that do not improve, probably for many different reasons and a lot of time I wish I know why. If people know why it might help the swimmer, the coaches, and future recruits to do better.

Rob Whitacre

Having swam with April for 3 years at ND, I have to agree with Dan. April is a great coach and an even better person. Her passion and commitment are up there with the greats. Anyone who is passionate about something knows that there are always people who don’t respond well to your enthusiasm. I’m all for holding people accountable, but as a wise man said, “Put your house in order before you criticize others.”

Tabahn Afrik

Not everyone has to agree with me. I’m not asking for support. I just want to be heard for once. In a way that is not ignored or pushed to the side. Of course my experiences will differ from yours and Dan’s. I’m not asking for you or anyone to take my side. I am simply sharing my thoughts, opinions, and my own experience. I have tried having conversations with everyone and anyone who will listen about this. This is isn’t new news to anyone. No where in these comments am I trying to make it seem like I have my life completely put together haha… again I’m just sharing.

Former West Michigander

The real world is much bigger than one athlete who has a concern about a coach, especially for a sport like swimming that the university really doesn’t care much about. Tabahn, you have to see the bigger picture that unless there was abuse or NCAA violations, the athletic department really couldn’t care less about a minor coaching grievance. Your voice is heard here to maybe make people think twice at ND to a recruit. But this article isn’t even on the front page of SwimSwam anymore, so the news cycle has passed. You also have to realize that your West Michigan mentality doesn’t work in the real world. I lived there and I know how close minded a lot of… Read more »

Tabahn Afrik

I will say while i swam for all those names you listed above, I have also had many private coaches. 4 of them were female. One of them being Diana who actually played a massive role in my high school swimming career before Don Kimble (rest in peace). And while these coaches were not heading any teams, they often times served as assistant coaches to the names you mentioned. I still saw them as my coaches all the same. Whether it be on a team or through specific skill honing in private. When I trained at the Olympic training center, the 3 times i went the coach leading the program, or the sprint group, was female. None of which treated… Read more »

Former West Michigander

Tabahn, I understand and my apologies for your experiences. However, having a coach work with you through grueling sets is much different than private coaching. You are paying a private coach to train you and at the OTC the coaches are not trying to invest in you on a personal level. Trying to coach someone who was on the verge of making Trials and touted as going to World Juniors is much different than a private female coach or someone on the fringes helping you succeed for a matter of days or weeks. Diana did not put you in situations of failure and make you rise to the occasion. Having a strong female telling you what to do, challenging you… Read more »

Tabahn Afrik

Hey man, I appreciate the apology. And I apologize if at any point i came off as hostile toward you or your opinions. I hear what you’re saying. And while I don’t agree that coaches like Diana have never put me in positions to fail or dig deep, or that OTC coaches don’t invest in the swimmers there on a personal level, you’re right I was extremely fortunate to have every single coach I have ever had. Even April to some extent. Bc whether the experience was good or bad, I’ve learned a great deal from every single one of them. Male or female.

Rex Riley

Since recent ND alumni are commenting, I’ll just say this. April is still young in her career. She doesn’t deserve this. She’s just had a baby, for heaven’s sake, and was still willing to continue coaching, even as a new parent. That’s just one testament for how seriously she takes her job. If you want a young coach with passion, she should be at the top of your list, and I mean the TOP. This comment won’t ruin her career. In fact, I think she’s got what it takes to earn a head coaching spot down the line, in my opinion. But to get to that point, admittedly, some things do need reined in. There are many things that didn’t… Read more »

Alum14

Gotta love it. “I believe deep down she is a good person…” but let me proceed to trash you on a popular public forum and embarrass you as you’re leaving a position (or maybe coaching altogether).

I’m sure your accounts are true. Maybe she wasn’t a good coach. Maybe she sucked at coaching. Like really bad. But you’re really not accomplishing a whole lot by doing this. You’re just kicking her while she’s down, in public.

You seem salty about your college swimming career and want people to listen to your complaints. I guess you’ve been heard now, congrats.

Tabahn Afrik

This has nothing to do with my satisfaction of how my swim career went haha. I had MANY short comings of my own as an athlete. Bad grades, Relationship troubles, nutrition. I take full responsibility the role i took for my own career and it’s ups and downs haha. That being said. I’ve created a name for myself here and accomplished things I’m proud of. Wouldn’t trade those experiences for the world. I don’t want this to be about me tho! I want wherever she goes next to ensure she’s held accountable for treating her athletes the way they need to be treated to be successful. I want her to be better wherever she goes next. I want her to… Read more »

Sam

You are still clueless about how to voice your experience without causing pain that serves no purpose other than causing pain. Constructive and honest feedback is different than airing your differences and grievances.

Coach

He just stated it isn’t about his “satisfaction with his swim career”, so that negates most of his comments except the instragram complaint, which is probably an athletic department policy. I doubt she singled him out to follow on social media.

Fluidg

I hope one day you’ll look back on this public exercise in callous selfishness and be mortified. Then promptly apologize to those you’ve hurt.

Coach

I don’t think people realize how hurtful public humiliations can be, especially when they are directed towards good people. Narcissists can ignore them, but it can scar sensitive people with wounds that may take years to heal. We’ve seen pro swimmers open up about their mental health struggles. All humans, coachse included, can go through this too.

Meeeeeee

Wow. You believe she is a good person, but a terrible coach? Now she must now believe you are a terrible person, and an ok swimmer.

RenéDescartes

You sound like a real class act to post this on a public forum instead of speaking to April one on one. Reading further on it looks like you did speak to her one on one. Still not a real good idea to post about this on a public forum.

Ol' Longhorn

So was April responsible for your 1-second drop in the 100 free from HS to ND sophomore year or just your ballooning times your junior year? I guess you were responsible for the former and she the latter? Can’t have it both ways, dude.

B1Guy!

Shoulda came to the B1G! Great academics AND coaching

Tabahn Afrik

Haha no. As much drama as this is stirring up, I do not regret where I went to school. I love my school and I love my team. Wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world

CLK

April is a great coach and person. Negativity should be kept out of this. Don’t we have enough in this world today?

CLK

By the down votes I gather many people thrive off of meanness. A sad world gets even sadder.

Anonymoose

In the grand scheme of things, not giving warranted negative criticism does a lot more damage (=negative stuff) than acting nice and as if nothing were wrong. Think about it

Coach

This is not the proper venue to give warranted negative criticism. This solves nothing,

Blastman

Can you suggest what the proper venue would be? I’d like to see negative criticism go in that direction, but since this is so convenient for users, they choose this forum.

Coach

Meeting with the head coach. Meeting with the athletic director. Letter/ documentation to head coach or athletic director.

CLK

Actually not acting, but then again how would you know? You don’t know me one bit.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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