University of Iowa graduate and former Gymhawk Jessa Hansen Parker is in her second season as an assistant coach with the Iowa women’s gymnastics program.
Hansen Parker’s first season on the coaching staff was one for the ages, as she helped lead the GymHawks to one of the best seasons in program history in 2021. Iowa finished the regular season with an 8-0 record to claim the first Big Ten title in program history. The team posted four of the top 10 scores in school history during the season, including a 197.050 — the second-best score all-time — at the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional. The Hawkeyes also won the Big Five Meet in Ann Arbor, and finished tied for third at the Big Ten Championships.
Two Hawkeyes — Lauren Guerin and JerQuavia Henderson — shared Big Ten floor titles, making them the third and fourth Big Ten floor champions in school history and the first since 2004. Guerin, Henderson and Clair Kaji were all named to the Big Ten All-Championships team.
Iowa climbed as high as No. 7 in the Road to Nationals rankings — the highest in program history — before finishing the year ranked 17th. Iowa was rated as the No. 1 floor team in the country for much of the year and the group finished fourth nationally. The GymHawks set the school record on floor, scoring a 49.600 in a tri-meet against Minnesota and Maryland on Feb. 13 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Hansen Parker coached four All-Big Ten selections, including first-teamers Adeline Kenlin, Kaji and Henderson. Kenlin also became the fourth Hawkeye all-time to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.
For the first time in school history, Iowa had three All-Americans in the same season as Guerin, Henderson and Kenlin all earned the distinction. Guerin was a first-team selection with a national qualifying score of 9.950 on floor. Henderson and Kenlin also tied school records — on floor and beam, respectively — as both athletes posted 9.975 scores (including one perfect 10.000) to tie records previously set in 2004 and 2002.
Iowa was honored early and often in 2021 as the program had a school-record nine Big Ten weekly honors. Kenlin was recognized four times, while Kaji (three) and Guerin (two) were multi-time honorees.
Academically, the Hawkeyes had 11 student-athletes earn Academic All-Big Ten honors, six were Big Ten Distinguished Scholars, and 21 earned Dean’s List honors over the course of the fall and spring semester.
Hansen Parker returned to Iowa City after serving four seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at UC Davis. While with the Aggies, Hansen Parker was tabbed as the 2019 Assistant Coach of the Year by the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) and in the West Region by the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association.
During the 2019 season, Hansen Parker’s beam crew finished with a national-qualifying score of 49.075 to rank 23rd nationally and the team posted two of the program’s top six all-time beam scores. Seven of the program’s top 10 beam scores (including the top four) and all five of the individual school-record 9.925s came under Hansen Parker’s watch.
Hansen Parker coached three NCAA qualifiers and two MPSF balance beam champions — Alexis Brown (2018) and Katy Nogaki (2017) — during her UC Davis tenure. A total of 14 student-athletes garnered All-MPSF honors, including nine first team selections from 2017-20.
Prior to joining the UC Davis staff, Hansen Parker was an assistant coach for three seasons at California Berkeley. During that time, the Golden Bears finished 16th, 18th, and seventh nationally, culminating with a 2016 appearance at the NCAA Championships — just the second in program history.
She helped Alicia Asturias (2014) and Toni-Ann Williams (2015, 2016) to All-America honors, with Williams later becoming the first Cal gymnast to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Hansen Parker also served as a coach for the Emeryville-based Head Over Heels club during her time at Cal. Working with athletes of Levels 3-10, she helped guide teams and individuals to Junior Olympic state, region, and national championships.
Hansen Parker was a four-year letterwinner as a Gymhawk from 2008-12, earning two All-Big Ten, three Academic All-Big Ten, and two Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honors. She was also a NACGC Scholastic All-American from 2010-12, a Dean’s List honoree from 2009-11, a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, and was a part Iowa’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee from 2009-12.
Prior to her collegiate career, Hansen Parker was a teammate with 2008 Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson at Chow’s Gymnastics, the same club that later produced Team USA members Gabby Douglas and Rachel Gowey.
The Des Moines, Iowa, native graduated from the University of Iowa in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication and minors in studio art and sport studies. She and her husband, Bryan, were married in 2020.