News & Updates

19 November 2021 • General

Jess Jones and Steve Willis leave Athletics NZ

Athletics NZ wishes High Performance Teams Coordinator Jess Jones well in her future endeavours.

Jess, who has served for four-and-a-half years in the position, is set to take up a new role as Black Ferns Sevens Team Manager based in Mt Maunganui.

A popular member of the Athletics New Zealand team, Jess has fully appreciated being given the opportunity to bolster her management experience and gain more experience working on overseas sporting events.

Jess looks back fondly on her time in the role and has been proud of her work in the Para programme.

“Since 2019 I’ve been involved in a role within the Para programme where I’ve tried to align the way we’ve run our teams between the Para and able-bodied teams, so we really are a true integrated sport,” she explains.

“I’m proud of the way I’ve helped integrate the administration of Para but my highlight of my time at Athletics New Zealand was serving as operations manager at the Paralympic Games.”

During her time, Jess has also forged a close relationship with the athletes and coaches within the high performance programme and while she will miss them, she hopes in her new role with the Black Ferns she will be able to reconnect during the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Jess has enjoyed the “strong camaraderie” of the team in the high performance office and she will miss the many people she worked with both within Athletics NZ and the wider athletics community.

“I was always the one who used to try and get out of cross country running at school, so it was quite ironic I went into the sport of athletics and learned to love it,” she adds. “Athletics is such a diverse sport. You have so many different events from the sprinters, endurance athletes to the powerhouse throwers and that’s what I love about it.”

***Athletics NZ’s Lead Coach for Distance Steve Willis has also departed the organisation. An integral part of the High Performance team since 2008 he has worked in a series of different roles but consistently worked to champion the support and opportunities primarily for our distance running athletes. His leadership of the Distance Event Group has enabled the organisation to take significant steps forward in creating a network of talent consistently capable of making pinnacle events. We wish Steve well for the future and thank him for his outstanding efforts over the past 13 years.