Jill Pace Hired as Tufts' New Women's Basketball Head Coach

MEDFORD - Jill Pace, a former assistant coach at Tufts who has been the head coach at Pomona-Pitzer since 2016, has been hired as the next head coach of the Jumbo women's basketball team.

Coach Pace led Pomona-Pitzer to its first NCAA Tournament berth in 17 years last season (Photo courtesy of Pomona-Pitzer).

Pace was an assistant coach under former Tufts head coach Carla Berube for two seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16. The Jumbos advanced to the NCAA "Final Four" in both years, including playing in the NCAA Championship Game in 2016. The 2014-15 team won the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) title. Pace was then hired at Pomona-Pitzer where she led the team to 22 wins and a conference championship this past year.

Pace now returns to the Jumbos to succeed Berube, who left Tufts earlier this month to accept the head coaching position at Princeton University.

A 2012 graduate of Bowdoin College, Pace's playing and coaching experience in the NESCAC, combined with the remarkable job she did turning the program around at Pomona-Pitzer, helped earn her the opportunity to become the eighth head coach in the 48-year history of the Tufts program.

"We're thrilled to welcome Jill back to Medford and the Tufts Athletics family," Director of Athletics John Morris said. "Both as a student-athlete and as a coach, Jill is known for hard work, high standards, values that align fully with our university mission, and winning. Jill will recruit and develop student-athletes who excel academically and in the community, and we have every confidence that she will advance and build upon the legacy of sustained excellence that has characterized Jumbo women's basketball for so many years. We're excited to watch Jill put her own imprint on the Tufts women's basketball program, and we can't wait for her to get started."

When Pace was hired at Pomona-Pitzer in the summer of 2016, she inherited a young team that posted a 1-23 record in her first season. The Sagehens improved to 8-17 for 2017-18 and then had a historic season this past winter, finishing 22-6 including 14-2 in the league. The team won the program's first-ever Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championship and posted 20 or more victories for the first time since 1991. Directing the team to its first NCAA appearance since 2002, Pace was named SCIAC Coach of the Year and D3hoops.com West Region Coach of the Year. Two of Pace's recruits earned D3hoops.com West Region Rookie of the Year honors during her three years at the helm.

While pursuing a bachelor's degree in sociology and gender and women's studies at Bowdoin, Pace played on teams that earned NCAA Tournament berths all four years and she was also a part of the 2009 NESCAC Championship team. A captain of the 2011-12 Polar Bears, Pace is 12th on the all-time scoring list with 1,085 points. The 485 points she scored as a senior are the fifth-most in a single season in Bowdoin history. Her .832 free throw percentage is second on the Bowdoin career list and she is also one of the top three-point shooters in team history. A Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Honorable Mention All-American as a senior, Pace was also a NESCAC All-Academic honoree and a three-time All-NESCAC selection during her Bowdoin career.

Originally from Bath, Maine, Pace got her start in coaching at Smith College in 2013-14 where she helped the Pioneers earn their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance and first-ever NCAA win. She also received a master's degree from Smith in exercise and sport studies.

"I want to thank John Morris and Alexis Mastronardi for entrusting me with the leadership of the Tufts Women's Basketball program, a program with such rich tradition at an institution that shares my values," Pace said. "Coach Berube - an incredible coach and one of the best people I know - developed and sustained something very special at Tufts. I am excited to build on what she started, compete at the highest level possible, and have a lot of fun along the way. I also want to extend a heartfelt thank you to my players and alums at Pomona-Pitzer for believing in me and my vision, and for their dedication to the program. And a thank you to the entire Pomona-Pitzer community for their support."

 

What They're Saying About Jill Pace ...

 

"I'm so thrilled that Jill Pace has been named the next women's basketball coach at Tufts University. Jill has shown in her time at Smith, Tufts and at Pomona-Pitzer that she is a successful leader of young women. She's extremely bright and thoughtful, a diligent worker and recruiter and has a contagious competitive fire that the Jumbos will love to play for. I'm excited to watch the Jumbos under the direction of Jill Pace, it's a great day for Tufts University."

Carla Berube, Princeton Univeresity Head Coach / Former Tufts University Head Coach

 

"Congratulations to Tufts for making an outstanding hire in Jill Pace. Jill brings the right pieces with her NESCAC coach and student-athlete experience combined with her proven Division III head coach track record at a like institution. Jill is a winner and even better all-around leader. She is the right person to build upon the high achieving legacy of Tufts Women's Basketball."

Lesley Irvine, Colorado College Vice President and Director of Athletics / Fomer Pomona-Pitzer Director of Athletics

 

"This is exciting for Tufts! To lose a great coach and replace her with a great young coach says a lot about the strength of the program. I've watched Jill be successful at everything she's done since she was 8-years-old at camp. She loves the game and she loves to win, and more importantly, she knows how to get young women on her page. She worked her tail off to put Pomona on the map and I couldn't be happier for her to return to the NESCAC as a leader in Tufts athletics."

Stef Pemper, US Naval Academy Head Coach