After a stellar playing career and a successful first three seasons as an assistant coach, Jennifer Leedham was named the new head coach of the Franklin Pierce women’s basketball program at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Leedham takes over for Steve Hancock, who served as head coach the past three seasons. Hancock served as a mentor for Leedham and helped her get to this point. As a player and assistant coach, Leedham has been one of the major factors in Franklin Pierce being one of the nation’s top women’s programs over the past five seasons.
Leedham was tabbed as the assistant coach following the conclusion of the 2008-09 season. In her first season in that role during the 2009-10 season, Leedham helped guide Franklin Pierce to a 32-2 overall record, a No. 1 national ranking, the Northeast-10 Conference regular season and tournament championships, an NCAA East Regional title and a trip to the Division II Final Four.
Leedham and Hancock’s best coaching job, however, may have come the following season in 2010-11. Faced with the loss of three major contributors, no seniors and a backcourt comprised of three true freshmen, Leedham was part of a coaching unit which guided Franklin Pierce to a 24-8 overall record, a top-10 national ranking at one point during the year, a second-place finish in the NE-10 regular season and a trip to the conference championship game. The Ravens were rewarded with a trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament, the program's fourth-straight appearance on the national stage.
This past season, Leedham helped lead Franklin Pierce to a 20-10 record and the team’s fifth-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Several players have earned major accolades under the guidance of Jennifer Leedham, including former standout and younger sister, Johannah Leedham, who became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division II history with 3,050 points. She was named the WBCA/State Farm Division II Player of the Year in 2010, while also picking up the same honor from the Northeast-10. Following her senior season, Johannah was drafted by the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA Draft. In 2011, Jewel White was named the Northeast-10 Conference and Daktronics East Region Player of the Year, while Marielle Giroud garnered the NE-10 Defensive Player-of-the-Year award twice (2011 & 2012).
The program has also experienced success in the classroom. In July of 2011, Franklin Pierce was honored by the WBCA with a No. 11 national ranking in the WBCA Division II Academic Top-25 Poll. Franklin Pierce, which was the only school in the Northeast-10 Conference to appear in the rankings, earned a team GPA of 3.524 during the 2010-11 year. Franklin Pierce was one of just 39 schools across all levels of college basketball last season (Divisions I, II, III, NAIA, Junior/Community College) to earn a team GPA of 3.5 or better. In 2012, Franklin Pierce earned a No. 21 national ranking in the WBCA Academic Poll with a 3.4 team GPA.
Leedham is widely regarded as one of the finest student-athletes and competitors in the history of Franklin Pierce Athletics. She starred as the point guard for the women's basketball team from 2005-09, scored over 1,000 career points and was the floor general for several teams which reached unparalleled heights in program history.
As a true freshman in 2005-06, Leedham was a member of a Ravens team which captured the ECAC Division II Championship with a thrilling 61-60 win over top-seeded Philadelphia. As a sophomore in 2006-07, she started all 28 games and led the team with 117 assists, while ranking second on the squad with an average of 12.8 points per game.
Leedham and the Ravens exploded during her final two seasons as they captured back-to-back NCAA East Regional championships. As a junior and co-captain in 2008, Leedham earned All-NE-10 Third-Team honors and guided the Ravens to the Eastern title and a trip to the Division II Elite Eight.
Franklin Pierce made a name for itself on the national scene in Leedham's senior season of 2008-09. She was the point guard on a Ravens team which captured the Northeast-10 Championship (the first NE-10 title in program history) and won its second-consecutive East Region title. Franklin Pierce advanced to the Elite Eight in San Antonio, Texas, where the Ravens dispatched of California (Pa.) in quarterfinals, 88-73, thanks in part to Leedham's 16 points and eight assists. In the Final Four versus Delta State, Leedham had a solid game of nine points and five steals to help lead the Ravens to a 58-39 victory and the school's first appearance in the national championship game, which would come two nights later on March 27.
In front of national television cameras on ESPN2, Leedham saved her best collegiate performance for her final game as she netted a season-high 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting (5-of-7 from three-point range), dished out nine assists, swiped four steals and blocked two shots in a full 40 minutes as the Ravens fought valiantly in a tough 103-94 loss to Minnesota State-Mankato. She earned NCAA All-Tournament team honors for her impressive performance at the national finals.
Following the season Leedham was honored with several other awards including the 2009 Walter Peterson Female Senior Student-Athlete-of-the-Year award, the NE-10 Defensive Player-of-the-Year award and All-NE-10 Second-Team honors.
Leedham graduated from Franklin Pierce in May of 2009 with a bachelor's degree in sports and recreation management. Leedham is also working towards earning her master's degree in leadership from Franklin Pierce.
"I'm very excited to begin this new chapter in my career," she said. "I have a lot of respect and appreciation for Franklin Pierce and the women's basketball program, and I'm looking forward to building on the success we have achieved over the past several seasons. I want to thank Bruce Kirsh and Steve Hancock for working with me as a player and coach. Those two men have a lot of experience and they've been kind enough to share that with me as I continue to grow in this profession."