Jennifer Svoboda is entering her fourth season as an assistant coach with the Southern Miss track and field program. She has a diverse role on the Southern Miss staff, including mentoring the Golden Eagle throwers, aiding in travel plans, organizing team volunteer opportunities and serving as a recruiting coordinator for the program.
Svoboda's well-rounded nature guided the 2017 USM throws squad to a standout season, establishing a name for themselves on the conference, regional, and national levels. During the indoor season, Svoboda guided her squad in rewriting three USM Indoor track and field records in the throws. Junior Donald Daley had a record setting performance at the C-USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in the men’s weight throw with a toss of 19.96 meters, that toss was good enough to secure the silver medal for the Miami native. Sophomore Danisha Jones, followed up his performance with one of her own as she heaved the ball and chain 19.05 meters, the toss shattered the previous school record and earned valuable points for the women’s team. Bahamian junior Brashe’ Wood wasn’t shy about adding her name to the record books as well. Wood broke the USM women’s indoor shot put record at the Vanderbilt Invite with a toss of 15.38 meters, which earned her C-USA Female athlete of the week honors.
Svoboda utilized the momentum that her throwers created during the indoor season to capitalize in major ways during the outdoor stretch. Italian mid-year signee Nadia Maffo made a big statement at the Southern Miss Open by turning the hammer out to an impressive distance of 62.04 meters. That toss was good enough to stamp her name in the USM record books, earn her C-USA Female Field Athlete of the week, and it also qualified her for the U-23 European Championships that would take place later in the summer in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Svoboda’s crew had an impressive showing at the C-USA Outdoor Championships. The throwers were able to earn 65 crucial team points during the championship weekend. Nadia Maffo got the ball rolling on day one of the championships in the women’s hammer throw. The true freshman dominated the field and competed her way into gold medallion honors, her performance at the championship eventually led to her being named the Female C-USA Athlete of the Year. Day two of the championship proved to be just as vital. Brashe Wood began the day with a new personal best toss in the women’s discus of 50.79 meters, which was good enough to secure the bronze medal. The men’s javelin squad also came up big that day by tallying 21 points for the men’s team. Grenadian senior Emron Gibbs led the way with a toss of 74.82 meters, the senior dominated the competition and claimed his first conference gold medal. Teammate Thomas Peters secured himself the silver medal with a season’s best performance of 66.15 meters. Rookie Dominic Governale also came out with a lifetime best and three points for his team. The throwers went out with a bang on the final day of competition. Junior Donald Daley surpassed the other competitors in the men’s discus and took home the gold medal. Brashe Wood and Alexis Chiles made sure that the last event didn’t disappoint. Wood posted a toss of 15.99 meters in the women’ shot put, which was good enough to break her own previous school record and take home the gold medal. Chiles also posted a lifetime best heave of 15.48 meters, which was good enough to clutch onto the silver medal.
Under Svoboda’s tutelage the USM throw’s squad was able to qualify six athletes to the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds in Lexington, Ky. Javelin standout Emron Gibbs worked his way into an 8th place finish, which was good enough to advance him to the NCAA national championship in Eugene, Oregon. Gibbs ended his career in Eugene by receiving NCAA Honorable Mention All-American honors after placing 20th overall in the men’s javelin throw.
Svoboda led the throws program to multiple successes in the 2016 season. Grenadian Junior, Emron Gibbs, became a force to be reckoned with and helped put Southern Miss track and field back on the national map. Gibbs set a new school record of 75.73m (248 ft) at the LSU Alumni Gold Meet in late April, the throw even eclipsed the Grenadian National Record. He followed the stellar performance up by earning a silver medal at the Conference USA championship in one of the toughest javelin conferences in the nation. He extended his success in the post season as well, notching himself a fourth place finish at the NCAA National championship in Oregon. This is the first time since 2003 that a male Southern Miss track and field athlete has earned First-Team All-American honors.
Gibbs wasn't the only USM javelin thrower breaking onto the scene. USM Freshman Thomas Peters etched his way past the 70 meter barrier and recorded a personal best of 70.44m (231 ft) at the Florida State Relays. Peters earned critical points for his team at the Conference USA championship by taking the fifth place position. Peters qualified for the NCAA East regional meet and battled his way into the 18th position, falling just shy of punching his ticket to Eugene. Peters didn't let the setback keep him down for long. Thomas took the second place finish at the US Junior championships, which qualified him for the Under 20 World Junior Championships, which was held in Bydgoszcz, Poland. The USM women's throwers also had a great season. Danisha Jones set a new USM school record in the weight throw at the Indoor Conference USA Championships. She heaved the ball and chain 18.10m (59'4) earning herself a silver medal. Once the outdoor season emerged senior Kayla Taylor punched her ticket to the NCAA East Regional meet in the discus. Taylor also earned critical points in the women's shot put during the outdoor conference meet by locking down the 5th place finish.
In 2015, Svoboda's first season with the Golden Eagles, she coached senior Rachel Polk to a NCAA East Regional meet appearance in both the shot put and discus. Polk also broke the school record and went on to win the shot put at the 2015 Conference USA Outdoor Championships with a throw of 15.74m (51'8). Polk finished in sixth place in the discus at the conference meet and recorded a season's best throw of 51.74m (169'9). Under Svoboda's tutelage, Kayla Taylor became a dominant force for the Golden Eagles inside the throwing circle. Taylor qualified for the NCAA East Regional meet in the discus. At the 2015 Conference USA Outdoor Championships, Taylor took home the bronze medal in the discus with a personal best toss of 51.75m (169'10) and she also placed sixth in the shot put. Senior Ethan Rich had a season best throw of 64.80m (212'7") to finish the 2015 Conference USA Outdoor Championship with a sixth place finish and was able to punch his ticket to the NCAA East Regional meet in the javelin.
Prior to coming to Southern Miss, Svoboda served as the assistant track and field coach for Transylvania University. While at Transylvania, Svoboda was in charge of implementing weight training programs, travel, and played a part in the team's recruiting. While working at Transylvania, she was also a graduate assistant for the University of Kentucky.
Svoboda was a four time regional qualifier at the University of Kentucky from 2007-2012. While at Kentucky, Svoboda competed in the shot put, discus, and javelin. She never missed an SEC final in any of her perspective events and was a bronze medalist in the shot put at the 2010 Outdoor SEC Championships. She recorded a personal best of 51'11 in the shot put and 162 in the discus. She also excelled in the classroom during her stint at Kentucky, achieving SEC Honor Roll status from 2007-2012.
A native Nebraskan, Svoboda is a graduate of Howells Public High School (2003-2007), where she was a six-time state champion and the Nebraska state-record holder in the shot put. She was also an all-state basketball player, accumulating over 1,000 points in her career. In 2012, she earned her bachelor's degree in exercise science with a minor in health promotion. Svoboda received her master's degree in Sports Administration from the University of Kentucky in 2014.
She is the daughter of Cindy Svoboda. She has one sister, Kristina.