After playing four years of tennis at Vassar College and graduating last year as an English major, Nick Jasso ’13 is back on board as the assistant coach for men’s tennis. Jasso, who is from Olmito, Texas, has found that his status as a recent graduate has only helped him with his new career as a coach at Vassar.
When he graduated in 2013, Jasso was still in the Poughkeepsie area during the summer before returning to Texas, and was in contact with previous Head Coach Cox. Jasso originally intended to come back as a volunteer assistant, but was eventually offered a paid position. After he accepted the position, Cox called Jasso to tell him that he was resigning, which left Jasso with both Head and Assistant Coach responsibilities. “Obviously I was nervous,” Jasso explained. “But it was too big of an opportunity to pass up.”
Most of the current members of the men’s tennis team were freshmen or sophomores when Jasso was a senior captain. “They really have that built-in respect. I know what it’s like to be a student here. It’s really easy for me to know what student-athletes look for at our school which I think comes down to a full, holistic education,” he said.
“You can’t learn everything in the classroom. On any court or field, you learn so many more things than you do in the classroom. I’d say that has been helpful, also from a recruiting standpoint. It’s been really easy to paint a picture of what it’s like here.”
Sophomore co-captain Daniel Cooper also commented on Jasso’s relationship to the team. “A captain last year, [Jasso] was always someone to look up to. He has continued his excellent leadership as an Assistant Coach this year. Always a role model, it felt natural for him to stay on as coach,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “He understands all aspects of being a student-athlete at Vassar and is always open to discussion. We have been able to maintain an extremely high level of communication since we have a close relationship. Having [Jasso] on the team is awesome because [he] is not just a coach; he’s a great friend.”
Sophomore co-captain Christian Phelps also reiiterated that fact, “Not only has he stepped up in terms of management and recruiting, but his connection with the team has made him really successful as an assistant coach. I have considered [Jasso] one of my closest friends since I got to Vassar—originally, he was a teammate and a captain, and now he’s a coach, but in both settings he has been helpful, trustworthy and supportive.”
Phelps continued, “He understands our games and where we’re at athletically, but also what it means to be a member of the Vassar men’s tennis team socially. He does a great job of catering team events to the personalities and relationships on our team, which really operates as a family.”
As for his new role with other staff members, Jasso said that the transition has been smooth. “A lot of them knew me as a student and I’ve felt very welcomed,” he explained.
“It takes a little bit of time to realize that they’re now your peers, your colleagues. You’re their equal in a lot of sense, and at I first didn’t really realize that, but they’ve really helped me feel that way.”
Jasso has been impressed with the team so far, and looks forward to the rest of his time as assistant coach. “I’m really excited. The team’s really young and really motivated, really self-motivated,” he said.
“There’s a lot of talent, a lot of room for improvement. I think it’s going to be tough this year—conference is looking strong and we’re young, so we have to get a couple of matches under our belts. We have to get a lot of confidence. I think if we have that level of confidence we can be awesome.”