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Article updated: 12/16/2013 9:49 PM
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Jensen enjoys double duty with Batavia football, basketball
 

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Jensen enjoys double duty with Batavia football, basketball

As a married father of two young children, Kevin Jensen is a busy guy on a regular basis.

For the past 6 weeks, Jensen has ratcheted busy to a completely different level.

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He wouldn't want it any other way.

Last month, Jensen was on hand to begin his third season as head coach for Batavia's girls basketball team, which kicked off its first official practice on Nov. 4.

Meanwhile, Jensen also fulfilled his duties as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs' football team, helping prepare the scout team for its upcoming state playoff opponent.

With each postseason victory, Jensen's workload continued to grow.

"During the first two weeks of the (football) playoffs, the girls would go late every night (for practice)," said Jensen. "During the third and fourth weeks of the playoffs, I was able to attend one or two football practices per week while the girls continued to go late."

When Batavia clinched a spot in the Class 6A football state championship game with a 38-6 semifinal victory over Rockford Boylan, it meant that Jensen's juggling act would continue for another week.

"I was able to do both again," said Jensen, who admitted that not having regular school hours during Thanksgiving week certainly helped. "We moved girls basketball practice back on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving."

The Bulldogs even spent part of Thanksgiving preparing for their title game against Richards -- while Jensen held an impromptu shootaround for the girls basketball players.

"I figured I was going to be at school anyway so I invited the girls in for a non-mandatory shootaround," he said.

Things got even crazier the next two days.

"We left Batavia at 7:30 a.m. Friday (Nov. 29) to head for the Morton tournament," said Jensen, who took his team on a brief bypass past tornado-ravaged Washington along the way.

After a pair of Friday games, Batavia played an 8:30 a.m. game on Saturday (Nov. 30) before Jensen headed straight to DeKalb for the scheduled 1 p.m. football kickoff.

"To say the least, it was a wild few weeks there," said Jensen. "The majority of days during the week I didn't see my kids awake."

Jensen admits he couldn't have done it without the support of his wife, Jackie.

"I've told people over and over that the best advice I ever got was back when I was in high school," said Jensen. "Knowing that I eventually planned on getting into coaching, the wife of a high school coach came up to me and said, 'Kevin, you have to find a coach's wife -- someone who understands how it works with the long hours and enjoys going to games."

"Fortunately, I out-kicked my coverage and found the perfect wife," said Jensen, who grew up in Plano.

Jensen, a 3-sport athlete at Plano High School, quickly found another level of success at Batavia.

"I had never been involved in a playoff game before three years ago when we played Lemont," he said. "The last two years were unbelievable and then this season was one of the most amazing things I've been a part of."

On football game days, Jensen has had the opportunity to sit in the press box alongside Hall of Fame coach Mike Gaspari.

"It is pretty special to be up there with him," said Jensen. "He's just a class act. When I was a long-term substitute, I asked him if I could be a volunteer coach. He said, 'we'd love to have you.' When he says he believes in you, he instills it to other people, too. It's still the same way with Dennis (head coach) Piron."

Jensen has experienced his share of success since becoming the Bulldogs' girls basketball head coach in 2011.

After inheriting a team that won just 8 games, Jensen guided the Bulldogs to a 13-win campaign in 2011-12 before another 5-game improvement last season (18-10 record).

Led by Missouri State-bound senior guard Liza Fruendt, Boston University-bound forward Erin Bayram, and 6-2 sophomore forward/center Hannah Frazier, the Bulldogs are off to one of their best starts in school history this season.

Batavia improved its record to 9-1 with last Monday's 76-53 victory over Proviso East.

Two weeks ago, the Bulldogs defeated Geneva 59-51 -- their first victory in 6 years over the Vikings.

"As a head coach, that's the biggest win I've had," said Jensen.

Jensen will remain plenty busy over the next few months, as his team participates in a pair of holiday tournaments -- at Oswego and Montini -- before facing Joliet Catholic in the McDonald's Shootout at Willowbrook High School (Jan. 20).

"We wanted to stack the deck," Jensen said of the rugged schedule. "We don't just want to play the best teams, we want to compete and beat teams."

On Wednesday, the Bulldogs will take on defending Class 4A state champion Marian Catholic in Oswego.

The Montini tourney field includes Marian Catholic, 2012 4A state runner-up Rolling Meadows, Trinity, Montini, Neuqua Valley, Fremd, Huntley, Geneva, DeKalb, and South Elgin just to name a few.

"Heading into the (last) weekend, all but three of the teams is either undefeated or had one loss," said Jensen. "We finished 2-2 last year and felt great about it."

Batavia will head into the 2014 portion of its schedule sitting atop the Upstate Eight Conference River Division standings.

"Now we've got the target on our backs," said Jensen, who still calls Geneva 'the team to beat.'

Come February, Batavia may get another opportunity -- a chance to win its first regional title since 1990 on its home floor.

Until then, Jensen will try to find some time for himself.

"I still haven't caught my breath yet," he said.

You can reach Craig Brueske at csb4k@hotmail.com

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