MOORHEAD — During her 16 seasons as Concordia head women’s basketball coach, Jessica Rahman found a way to blend two of her passions.
Rahman made memory quilts for every senior she coached.
“There was one year I had seven that I made,” Rahman said. “It was very satisfying and fun to work on some of those things.”
Rahman recently retired as Cobbers head coach, compiling the most wins in program history with 273. She was an All-American player at Concordia, helping the team win an NCAA Division III national championship in 1988.
“The connection to the place means a lot to me,” Rahman said. “It’s hard to step away from something that is known and comfortable.”
Rahman said she is stepping away from coaching to pursue her other interests, like quilting and painting. She added she would also like to do work relating to gender equity and women in leadership roles, mission work and write a book.
“You can do some things on the side, but (coaching) is an all encompassing job,” said Rahman, who was named Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference coach of the year in 2005 and 2009. “There is really not an off switch.”
Lindsey (Schultz) Halverson played for Rahman from 2007-2011. Halverson was a key player on the Cobbers team that Rahman helped guide to the MIAC tournament championship in 2011. Concordia finished that season with a 21-7 record, losing in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
Halverson, who has been a high school girls basketball coach the past eight seasons (including six as a head coach), still has her memory quilt from Rahman.
“I will have that quilt with me forever,” Halverson said. “She cares so much about each of her players.”
Rahman said she will most remember the relationships she made during her coaching and playing career at Concordia. One of the memories Rahman has is with that 2010-2011 team, which defeated St. Thomas for the MIAC tournament title. There was more to the story, however, since the team bus got stuck in a snowbank. The team ended up taking taxis to the game, which was played in Schoenecker Arena.
“That team was pretty special. That didn’t rattle us at all,” Halverson said of having to take taxis to the game. “Winning in their brand new gym, that was the best part of it.”
Rahman (Beachy) closed her All-American career with the Cobbers by scoring 20 points in a 65-57 victory against St. John’s Fisher for the 1988 national title. The Final Four that season was played at Concordia.
“That doesn’t really happen anymore. That was really significant, the feeling,” Rahman said. “The whole place being electric with energy. You remember moments like that with your teammates.”
A four-time All-American, Rahman finished her Concordia career with 2,101 points and is the program’s all-time scoring leader.
“I’m on Cloud 9, excited, so proud of my teammates,” Rahman told The Forum after that championship game. “Depth and balance did it for us.”
As a coach, Rahman led the Cobbers to conference postseason titles in 2006 and 2011. In 2013, she lead Concordia to a MIAC regular-season championship.
“Jess has embodied the mission of the institution since she was a player,” said Concordia athletic director Rachel Bergeson, who also was an assistant coach for Rahman for six seasons. “She deeply cared for her student-athletes whether that included basketball or life outside of basketball. … She has put her heart and soul into Cobbers women’s basketball and she will be dearly missed.”
Rahman said coaching her daughter Cassidy Rahman for four seasons was another one of her highlights at Concordia. Rahman’s father, Ron Beachy, also was an assistant coach for his daughter during multiple seasons.
“One of the things that I remember is my very first practice as the new head coach,” Jess said. “When (the players) all walked up in their maroon and gold and they’re just standing there, it was ‘Wow, this is so cool.’”
While Rahman was passionate about basketball, Halverson said coach would find ways to get the team to laugh or make the season fun. One of the traditions with Rahman as head coach was that the team had a costume-themed practice right before Christmas break.
“She always kept it light,” Halverson said.
“There are so many things packed into those 16 years. There’s a lot of stuff,” Rahman added. “I think one thing that people forget is coaches learn from their athletes, too. Sometimes our conversations had nothing to do with basketball."
Rahman's retirement is effective at the end of May.
“It feels like it’s flown by, yet there seems like there is a lot of things packed in there," Rahman said.