I AM UAA: Teri Cothren

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

B.A. Psychology '98, Seawolves basketball
Hometown: LaGrande, Oregon
Fun Fact: Is a recreational photographer and former TaeBo instructor

I AM UAA Teri Cothren

Teri Cothren has been pulled to Alaska on three distinct occasions, each of which centered around UAA.

In 1981, when she was six years old, her father was hired as an engineering professor at UAA, causing the family to move from Klameth Falls, Oregon, to Anchorage. Teri ended up back in Oregon at age 11 when her parents split, but since her dad was still here, UAA was an easy college of first choice for her and she was back again right after high school. Oregon beckoned again after Teri earned her B.A. in psychology and played a successful four years on UAA's women's basketball team-but after eight years of owning her own massage and esthetician practice, the veteran Seawolf is back yet again. This time, you'll find her with University of Alaska's Corporate Programs as a client partner and as a graduate student pursuing her master's in project management at UAA.

"I really should just stay at this point," Teri laughs. "Maybe the third time's a charm."

The truth is, Teri feels that she has come full circle. Prior to leaving Alaska in 2001 after earning her bachelor's degree, she worked with UAA's workforce development program and then followed her managers to UA Corporate Programs when it was a budding department.

She knew she wanted to pursue her master's someday, but hadn't decided on what. So instead, she moved to Portland, Oregon, to attend massage school. And then relocated to Ontario, Oregon, to open her own practice.

"I love caring for people," says Teri, who spent her first three years at UAA majoring in nursing. "But I wanted to help people in ways that I didn't have to hurt them to do it."

So instead of continuing her clinicals to learn how to administer shots, she changed direction and turned her minor in psychology into a degree. Massage was a good fit for her as well; mixing psychology with healing led to a fulfilling eight-year career.

A year or so ago, Teri decided it was time to pursue that master's degree after all and started looking into the M.B.A. and project management degrees at UAA when a job in UA Corporate Programs opened up.

"When I originally decided to move I wanted the added benefit of being able to work on a master's wherever I landed, so when this job opportunity opened up with UA, that fit my criteria," she says. "And you can't put a price on network. I considered moving to Seattle or Portland, but I already knew people up here."

What Teri has enjoyed the most about being back in Anchorage is reconnecting with UAA Athletics and volunteering her time to help facilitate connections with student-athlete alumni.

"It's great knowing I have a relationship, a connection and a history with UAA Athletics," says the 5'7" former shooting and point guard.

As a college student, it wasn't until her sophomore year at UAA that Teri decided to try out for the women's basketball team, notwithstanding her lifelong love for the game.

"I had this idea in my head that Division II was going to be so out of my caliber of play," she says, despite the fact that she was "that kid growing up who would have the janitor opening the gym for me first thing in the morning or I would lay in bed shooting hoops up in the air. I don't know why I loved basketball so much, I just did."

She started playing at an early age in South Anchorage with the boys in her neighborhood, which led to her parents installing a hoop outside their garage. But it wasn't until 6th grade back in Oregon that she started playing competitively. And even though she started college at UAA committed to immersing herself in her studies, it wasn't long before she started missing the game too much.

"I watched the women's team play and realized that they passed the ball the same and did the same drills, so I tried out my sophomore year and walked on," she says. "By my junior year I worked my way into a scholarship and was voted in as team captain my senior year. Overall, it was one of the best experiences of my life."

As part of her project management capstone project (though still a little ways down the road), Teri will be helping to coordinate an all-athlete alumni reunion when the new Seawolf Sports Arena is built-slated for summer 2014.

"Most of my teammates are still in touch," she says, mentioning that her passions include good conversations with friends and cooking for people she cares about. "Once you have that connection, you have it for the rest of your life. I'm excited to be involved with the athletic department to nurture those connections and help create a system in which more alumni athletes can get involved."

"UAA has been a touchstone in my life," she continues. "That's why being back here and connecting with student-athletes again-past and present-has been so rewarding."

She cordially invites her fellow Seawolves to freshen their own connections with their alma mater. Mark your calendars for the summer of 2014.

Teri encourages athlete alums to stay tuned to GoSeawolves.com or to contact Tlisa Northcutt, director of development for Athletics, if they have ideas to share or time to volunteer for the reunion.

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