Chris Jans coaching journey brings him to Bowling Green, his dream has come true

The new men’s head basketball coach Chris Jans still said he gets lost going to the bathroom in the Stroh Center.

Jans was introduced to the University as the new head coach March 25, but has not had time to settle down and adapt to Bowling Green.

This is the tenth university he has coached at in 22 years and he could not be happier, he said.

“All I ever wanted to do was be a coach,” Jans said. “It’s a dream come true, I dreamt about being in front of a podium and being announced as a head coach.”

It was a dream come true for Jans but, when he was in college, he wasn’t thinking about being a head coach. He was earning his degree in marketing and finance and had aspirations of being a guy on Wall Street.

Wall Street had a lifestyle of competition similar to the one that made him love sports.

“It was a competitive and tense world,” Jans said. “But, I wasn’t thinking about coaching until a year after I graduated.”

A year out of graduation he had what he called an “epiphany” and realized that his passion was basketball.

He then called around looking for jobs in coaching and came across a volunteer position with a Division three school, Elmhurst College. To make ends meet at Elmhurst, he worked as a substitute teacher, worked basketball camps and valeted cars at restaurants and bars.

“Most of the money came from my responsibilities in those areas,” Jans said. “But, I was doing it obviously to get the basketball experience.”

From there, Jans moved on to other stops head coaching and assistant jobs. There were situations in those jobs like his head coach being fired or being offered a good position that made him move around so much.

Jumping from job to job was not the plan originally for Jans though and it was frustrating for him at times.

“I never thought about getting out of it [coaching]. I just wondered if I was ever going to catch a break,” Jans said. “I never questioned my pursuit of my dreams. I just wondered if I was going to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

That light looked to have come early as current Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall offered the head assistant job with him at Winthrop in 1998. He turned that down though because he was happy as a junior college head coach at the time.

He got another chance when Marshall approached him again in 2007 to be an assistant coach at Wichita State. Jans accepted that job.

“He is a grinder,” Marshall said. “He works extremely hard day in and day out. He has great passion and knowledge of the game.”

In his first year they had players go down with injuries and only win 11 games. It grew every year as they would win 28 games in his fourth year.

“It was a struggle,” Jans said. “Trying to build a program and culture. Losing beat you down but fortunately we had great coaches and kids who kept buying in.”

The Shockers would go on to win a NIT Championship, make a Final Four appearance and have an undefeated regular season this past year.

“There were times where we thought internally can we do this,” Jans said. “But the last three years felt like a ‘pinch me’ moment. We had a special and magical ride something they can never take from us.”

After 22 years of coaching, he has landed at the job he said he has always dreamt of.

“It [coaching career] made me hungry, made me appreciate what I have now,” Jans said. “Looking back it makes you appreciate the journey. I wouldn’t want to change any of it.”