Janet Denson

Dr. Janet Denson, 1949-2022

Dr. Janet Denson was the founding women’s basketball coach of South Mountain Community College, where she also served as Director of Student Life and Leadership.

Newspaper article from June 23, 1982
No author listed.
Image provided by South Mountain Community College

Denson who was the oldest and the only girl with four brothers, grew up in  a small town, Parkesburg Pennsylvania. She was very competitive with her brothers and family in all sports which led her to being an outstanding basketball player at her local high school and also at Parson College in Iowa. Denson later moved to Arizona to obtain her Master’s degree at Arizona State University. Denson moved back and forth from a small town to a big city when summer would come around. Later Denson found herself as a volleyball coach at Kansas City which she later received an award for outstanding volleyball coach, she also coached at Arizona State University for the JV league and coached a high school team which went all the way to the state finals.

Denson worked at the Phoenix Union High School and was looking for more employment, which landed her at South Mountain Community College. Denson started the women’s basketball program and was ready to help students extend their knowledge and love for basketball. In the beginning, Denson said it was hard to recruit players to come to South Mountain and at one time she only has seven players. Denson pushed through the hard times and later won Employee of the Year award, which she was proud of because she knew she was able to help many people during her time in the school year.

Coach Denson remembers being the first basketball coach at SMCC

Denson was also the Director of Student Life & Leadership at South Mountain Community College. She helping students reach their full potential, explore life and was to be able to get students out of their comfort zone to be able to do bigger things. She wanted students to be able to not be scared away from home and wanted them to exceed more. Denson doesn’t want students to stay at a junior college for more the five years, she says “Get your degree and get out”.

Dr. Janet Denson
Student Researchers: Chimesa Parker & Leobardo Rodriguez, filmed by Mario Avent

Dr. Denson passed away in 2022.

Dr. Denson’s celebration of life ceremony at Phoenix’s First Institutional Baptist Church
NarratorJanet Denson
Place of OriginParkesburg, Pennsylvania
Place of ResidenceLaveen, Arizona
RoleFounding Women’s Basketball Coach of South Mountain Community College and Director of Student Life and Leadership
Years Active in South Phoenix1949-2022
Recording Duration51:52
DateOctober 11, 2018
LocationSouth Mountain Community Library
Interviewed ByStudent Researchers: Chimesa Parker & Leobardo Rodriguez
Story Written ByStudent Researchers: Chimesa Parker & Leobardo Rodriguez