When Jessica Chisley began attending classes at Centre College, she found more than a place to further her education.
She found a place to thrive, a place to call home.
Chisley, a 2000 graduate of Frankfort High School, graduated from Centre in 2004 and has been employed by the school since 2005.
“I just love this school,” Chisley said. “It reminds me of Frankfort High, where you could do a lot of things. At Frankfort High I was able to play multiple sports, be involved with drama, the band, student government.”
In October she was inducted into the Centre Athletic Hall of Fame.
Chisley played soccer and softball at Centre. After working for AmeriCorps for a year following graduation, she returned to Centre as assistant women’s soccer coach in the fall of 2005.
While being the associate head coach of the women’s soccer team is her primary responsibility, Chisley has worked in several areas of the athletic department.
During her tenure at Centre, Chisley has served as an assistant coach for women’s basketball, director at the fitness center, assistant coach for lacrosse when the program started, and she now works with the sports information office.
“One thing about being in our athletic department,” she said, “you have your main responsibility, and mine has always been women’s soccer, but you also help where you’re needed.”
Even if that means helping with a sport you don’t know a lot about, like lacrosse.
“One thing I did was take the rules test,” Chisley said about lacrosse. “Not because I wanted to be an official, but I wanted to learn the rules of the game first. We had a coach coming in to start the program, and she needed an assistant.
“I helped out because she needed one.”
Chisley’s journey at Centre started when she was recruited to play soccer. She added softball as a walk-on.
“I wasn’t recruited for softball,” she said. “They didn’t know me. There was a new coach as I remember, and it was a transition period. They had a meeting for students who were interested in playing.”
Being on the softball team played a role in Chisley becoming a coach.
“When I got my degree I was still trying to figure things out, but I wanted to come back and be involved in the coaching end of it,” she said.
That’s when an assistant softball coach at Centre, who was the soccer coach at Boyle County High School, stepped in.
“He knew I was trying to figure things out, and he helped me by letting me volunteer at Boyle County,” Chisley said. “He showed me the ropes of coaching.”
That’s worked out well for Chisley and Centre’s soccer team.
Chisley and Centre women’s soccer head coach Jay Hoffman were named the United Soccer Coaches South Atlantic Staff of the Year in December, an honor they also received in 2016.
The pair led Centre to a 21-0-1 overall record last fall, completing an undefeated and untied regular season for the second year in a row.
The Colonels won their eighth Southern Atlantic Association tournament title and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the ninth straight year.
The tie came in the NCAA Tournament, and after four overtime periods, Centre lost the match in a shootout to Scranton.
Chisley, daughter of Sharon Chisley and the late David Chisley, hasn’t grown tired of her work after 15 years.
“It feels like family here,” she said. “I’m sure other places say that, but it’s always had a family atmosphere.
“I enjoy it, I’m comfortable here, and I still feel challenged. Once you get to the point you’re not challenged, it’s probably time to move on.”
Chisley doesn’t expect that to happen any time soon.
“I played sports, I was involved with drama productions here and there,” she said about her time as a college student. “I was a music major. I got to study aboard. It’s a very unique, incredible place that left a lasting impression.”