Jenny Ryan was named the head coach of the women's cross country team before the 2007 season.
Ryan also serves as the head coach to the track & field team and spent 11 years as a Nordic skiing assistant coach.
During the 2017 season, Ryan guieded the Wildcatas to their third-straight NCAA II Championships appearance. The Wildcats finished 13th with Kameron Burmeister earning her second-consecutive All-America honor. NMU also finished fourth at the NCAA II Midwest Region Chanpionships and runner-up at the GLIAC Championships with five all-conference performers for the second-straight year.
In 2015, the Wildcats finished third at the GLIAC Cross Country Championship, their highest finish under Ryan at the time. With their fourth-place finish at the NCAA Midwestern Regional, they also qualified for their first NCAA National Championship since 2005. There, Northern Michigan took ninth in the 32-team field.
Burmeister earned all-GLIAC first team and all-Midwest Region team accolades for the second-straight season. Sophie McDonald joined Burmeister on the all-region team and was one of four Wildcats to earn all-GLIAC second team honors.
In her first season as head coach, Ryan led the Wildcats to fifth-place finishes at both the GLIAC Championship and the NCAA Midwestern Regional. In 2012 and 2014, Northern Michigan placed fourth at the GLIAC championship.
Northern Michigan has been named an All-Academic Team by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association nine-straight years. To earn this distinction, a team must have recorded a cumulative team GPA of 3.00 or better and posted a team score at their respective NCAA regional championship.
As an assistant cross country coach, Ryan helped coach the Wildcats to the NCAA Division II Championships six years in a row. There, the team finished eighth, sixth, fourth, seventh and seventh. Over that stretch, Northern Michigan won two GLIAC titles and a NCAA Great Lakes Regional championship and produced 10 All-American runners.
As a Nordic skiing assistant, Ryan helped lead the Wildcats to the NCAA Ski Championships each year. Under Ryan's watch, 48 Wildcats earned All-American accolades and four captured NCAA titles. Ryan also coached the 2006 U.S. Junior World and U-23 team in Slovenia.
Ryan spent two years as head coach Sten Fjeldheim’s graduate assistant and was named a full-time staff member in August 2002.
Before joining the Wildcat staff, Ryan held numerous coaching positions. From 1997-2000, she held two coaching positions in Bozeman, Mont., with the Bridger Ski Foundations Junior Ski Program and the Masters Cross-Country Skiing Training and Racing Group. Ryan also served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Montana State women’s cross county ski team. She taught math at Chief Joseph Middle School, where she also coached sixth-grade track & field.
A native of Burnsville, Minn., Ryan attended Montana State, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in math education with a minor in physical education and health. Ryan skied for the Bobcats for four years and garnered All-American and Academic All-American honors, placing fourth at the 1988 College Nationals.
Ryan continued her skiing career after college, gaining national recognition in cross country skiing (1992, 1994) and biathlon (1998), competing in nine National Championships and three Olympic Trials. She was a member of the United States Olympic Education Center ski program at Northern Michigan from 1990-93.
Ryan also competed in the 1999 World Master’s Championships in Grindelwald, Switzerland, winning one gold and two silver medals. Ryan later won two gold medals at the 2004 Masters National Championships.
Ryan received her master’s degree in exercise science from Northern Michigan in 2002 and was named Outstanding Graduating Graduate Student. She is a 2010 graduate of the NCAA Women’s Coaches Academy and a level I track & field coach.