The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


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Xavier coaches life off campus

Coach Geoffrey Stricklin and three crew members take a selfie at the top of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona. Stricklin loves exploring different mountains in the Phoenix area and enjoys bringing his team with him. (Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Stricklin)

At Xavier College Preparatory, the coaches, similar to the athletes, enjoy time off campus and play significant roles in their communities. Geoffrey Stricklin, Barb Chura and Jennifer Gillom are three notable examples.

Stricklin coaches varsity crew along with being a freshman theology teacher. In the spring of 2023, Stricklin was recruited to coach crew because of his rowing background. He attended Loyola Marymount University, rowing all four years. 

“I love the sport of rowing; I think it is an amazing art form, and it is a great metaphor for life,” Stricklin said. 

Stricklin, with his wife, owns a business outside of school called New Jerusalem Studios. New Jerusalem Studios specializes in liturgical designs and the creation of large, sacred murals. Stricklin handles project management, client relations, contract writing and finances through this business.

He loves to hike, cook and landscape in his free time. Stricklin’s recent obsession has been making gourmet meals at home. 

“One of my favorite foods I could live off of is boiled artichokes,” Stricklin said. His favorite way to prepare artichoke is with lemon and garlic.

Another coach who enjoys spending time outside is Barb Chura. Chura is the head soccer coach and a freshman physical education teacher. She grew up in New York before attending the University of Connecticut on a soccer scholarship and she has coached at Xavier for 21 years.

Outside of school, Chura is a club soccer referee. She has been refereeing for eight years. From August through November, and then March through May, she can be found ruling games. 

Chura was drawn to the Southwest due to its warm weather. She takes advantage of it by taking frequent walks, once or twice daily. 

Her favorite hobby, though, is watching Christmas Hallmark movies.

“My favorite Hallmark movie is ‘Crown for Christmas.’ I have probably watched that movie seven or eight times,” Chura said. 

Alongside Chura is Jennifer Gillom. Gillom coaches varsity basketball and teaches freshman physical education with Chura. She began playing basketball when she was eight before attending the University of Mississippi to further her athletic career. She played and coached in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

While Gillom was in the WNBA, she had more free time and was able to create her own schedule, allowing for more down-time. Gillom began her coaching career at Xavier in 2004 despite having multiple offers to coach college teams. As the varsity basketball coach at Xavier, she doesn’t have as much free time and is busy with early mornings and late nights. 

“I felt that if I coached college, I would develop someone else’s coaching mentality and philosophy, and I kind of wanted to develop my own,” she said. 

Though busy, Gillom is fond of any leisure time she gets. She enjoys trying different restaurants and foods and watching movies at the movie theater. Aside from basketball, though, Gillom is fascinated by pickleball. 

“I do not know why, but that game has caught my eye,” she said. 

Stricklin, Chura and Gillom play massive roles at Xavier. While managing a heavy workload on campus teaching and coaching, most of their lives outside school are spent with interesting activities. Teachers do have lives outside of school.

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