Saturday, July 3, 2010

Whatever happened to ... JMU's Jess Cichowicz

Jess Cichowicz,a four-year starter at point guard for James Madison, holds several school records, including career assists (670), season (5.86) and career (5.29) assist average, assists in a game (17) and season steals (82). The 2003 graduate is also a former member of the Dukes staff as director of operations (2007-08).

In her words, here's how she spent her time since graduating in 2003.

After graduating from JMU, I returned home to Australia. I had decided to go back to school to get a teaching degree but since the school year is different over here I had to wait about nine months before I could begin my course. I worked with my mum until my course began and, after a year of intense study, received my postgraduate teaching degree in primary education (K-6).

During this time I returned to my old basketball team, the Nunawading Spectres to play in the SEABL (the league below our professional league). I also played for the Dandenong Rangers in the WNBL (the Australian professional league) and was a member of the 2004 championship team and went on to compete in the FIBA World Championships in Taiwan. Unfortunately I reinjured my knee (I had previously needed surgery after my senior season at JMU) and had to go through another surgery. I played another season in the SEABL but decided at the end of the season to take a break from basketball.

I worked as an emergency teacher for a little over a year before deciding to return to the U.S. I arrived back in Virginia with intentions of teaching but ended up working with a civil engineering company. I had a fantastic learning experience working as a civil designer for about a year and a half until a position came open at my alma mater. I took on the Director of Operations position at JMU in 2007-2008 and was thrilled to be back involved with the Women’s Basketball team. At the conclusion of my first year I re-evaluated and decided it was time to move back to Australia. I had missed the birth of my first niece and almost didn’t make it home for my sister’s wedding. I decided family was too important to me to be so far away from them.

I returned home to Australia in 2008 and went back to emergency teaching. In 2009 I received a position teaching grade 1 at Springvale Heights Primary School and have continued teaching at the new merged school, Springvale Rise Primary School, with a grade 5/6 class this year. I thoroughly enjoy what I do and have ambitions of returning to school to undergo a masters degree in teaching within the next few years.

As for basketball, I have not returned to competition since re-injuring my knee. I miss the game I love so dearly and am in the process of finding a local team to play socially where I can forget about the stress of high level sports and just enjoy playing. I keep track of the Dukes online and had a feeling that 2009-2010 would be their year. I would have loved to have been at the tournament to experience their accomplishment of becoming CAA Champs, but unfortunately could not due to work commitments.