Good Counsel Athletic Director Steve Howes knows how important school spirit is toward building a positive culture and school pride. So, when faced with hiring a new poms and dance coach, he knew he wanted someone who would contribute to the institution's academic, athletic, social and spiritual goals.
He found such a person in three-time All-American Jessica Russell.
"Jessica brings passion and a wealth of technical knowledge to our pom program," Howes said. "She impresses me with her leadership, positivity and dedication to our young women. I'm excited about the new team dynamic she's creating."
Russell, who served the past two years (2018-20) as an assistant coach at West Virginia University, is proficient in jazz, pom, hip-hop, acrobatics, ballet and tap. Her choreography and role modeling helps her dancers gain in confidence, discipline and teamwork.
|Angelina Nicole Bezos||2024|
|Kamilah Rivera Cohen||2025|
"I'm excited to help them grow and reach their potential," said Russell, who began dancing at a grandmother's urging at age 4. "For the girls who want to perform after high school, I look forward to providing them with the tools to continue dancing."
Russell, a member of the West Virginia Dance Team from 2014-18, was named Rookie of the Year as a freshman and captain as a senior. Her team competed all four years at the National Dance Alliance (NDA) Collegiate National Championship.
In 2014, '16 and '17, she was nominated, auditioned and competed to earn NDA All-American honors. During her six years as a WVU dancer and coach, she also designed team clothing, planned fundraisers and built relationships with sponsors.
Russell balanced her athletic pursuits with a strong dedication to academics and community service. She graduated in 2019 with a bachelor's degree in speech pathology and audiology. Her name appeared on the Dean's List (min. 3.5 GPA) twice and once on the President's List (min. 4.0 GPA). During her final semester, she served as an undergraduate clinician at the Allen Hall Speech Clinic in Morgantown, W.Va.
Russell is studying at California University of Pennsylvania toward a master's of education in applied behavior analysis. After completing her requirements in August 2020, she wants to work with autistic children.
Each summer since 2015, Russell has served as an NDA dance instructor in Garland, Texas, where she judges routines and teaches high school and collegiate dance teams skills and techniques. She also taught gymnastics during the 2017-18 school year at Ultimate Dance Complex in McMurray, Pa. A dancer there from 2010-14, she placed in the Top 10 at every competition. Several times she achieved highest score.
Russell, a native of Pittsburgh who now lives in Baltimore, is the daughter of Keith and Debra Russell. She has an older brother, Jared. She graduated from Frazier High School in Perryopolis, Pa., in 2014 and was a baton twirler in the marching band.