Oak Leaves

February 12, 2016


Coach Nate Jensen

Familiar Face Becomes New Football Coach

Keith Berry

A familiar face to the Manchester University Spartans football program is returning to campus in a big way during the 2016 season. Nate Jensen, who coached under former head coach Shannon Griffith from 2004–2008, was named the 15th head coach in the program’s history. “

We had 80–100 applicants for the head coaching vacancy,” said Director of Athletics Rick Espeset. “We narrowed it down to three potential candidates, and Nate was obviously one of them. Even though we knew him the best, Jensen, overall, was the best candidate to lead our program moving forward due to his coaching experience."

Jensen was a former student-athlete at Defiance College, serving as the starting defensive end for three seasons. Following graduation, he served five years on the Spartans coaching staff. “Coach Griffith gave me my first opportunity in the coaching ranks,” Jensen said. “He has always been a great mentor throughout my whole entire coaching career. It is a big honor to taking over for him.”

Jensen returned to Defiance College as the defensive coordinator with the Yellow Jackets in 2009. The Spartans' conference rival saw great success with Jensen on the coaching staff, ranking second place in the HCAC in scoring defense during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Following a three-year stint with his alma mater, Jensen moved on to the defensive coordinator role at Alma College in Michigan, where he coached for four years.

The new head coach has taken no time while acclimating back into the culture of Manchester University, as well as developing relationships with his players.  In order to do this, Jensen sits down with the players once a week. “I have to get to know 75 new guys, so I ask for ten minutes of their time to talk about life, leadership, and, of course, football,” he said. Jensen also wants to integrate his player into the MU in the wider sense. “One of my goals is to build a community atmosphere through the team,” he said. “The football team is showing up at basketball games to support their fellow student-athletes.”

Jensen chose Manchester to begin his coaching career in 2004, and immediately built relationships with coaches and staff on campus. His goal for the Spartans this season is to grow the football program as a school-wide phenomenon that gains the Manchester community's interest. “I want to create a culture through the team that not only do the players want to get behind, but the student body as well,” Jensen said. “It is a huge asset for any college campus for the athletic programs to be tied together with the rest of the University.”

Jensen and his wife, Missy, a former soccer player for the Spartans, are excited to return to the school that they each once called home. “The only reason I left Manchester in the first place was due to an opportunity to move up in the coaching ranks," Jensen said. "This place is pretty special, and, to me, it is an honor to return as the head coach of the Spartans.”