It’s only been a week, but Jenna Thorp could get used to this college thing.
After graduating from Hinckley-Big Rock, Thorp is in DeKalb and has been on campus for the past week at Northern Illinois, where she’ll play basketball in the fall for new NIU coach Kathi Bennett.
“We have two classes a day and conditioning and pickup games,” Thorp said. “It’s good.”
Although the book has been closed on Thorp’s stellar high school career for the Royals, there is one more accolade to add.
After a senior season in which she helped H-BR win its second straight Class 1A girls basketball title and was named second team All-Area by the Daily Chronicle in volleyball and girls track and field, Thorp has been named the 2009-10 Daily Chronicle Female Athlete of the Year.
The list of Thorp’s athletic accomplishments this school year alone is overwhelming.
There was the completion of a back-to-back state title run in girls basketball. Thorp finished eighth in Ms. Basketball voting while averaging a career-high 15.0 points a game to go along with 8.3 rebounds and 3.4 steals per contest.
She became the all-time leading scorer in school history, played every position from guard to post and was named the Daily Chronicle’s Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
And that was just basketball.
“What you can really appreciate in a player and an athlete of that caliber is she never thought she was above anyone on the team or anyone she played against,” H-BR basketball and track coach Greg Burks said. “The results of that attitude spoke for themselves.”
In volleyball, H-BR advanced to the Class 1A sectionals, a team Thorp played a big role on as a middle blocker. In track, she advanced to the Class 1A state meet in the shot put.
What her teams did on the court and in the field are just a couple of things she’ll remember most about her high school career.
“Winning state titles back-to-back, building relationships team-to-team,” Thorp said.
Building relationships, giving credit to her teammates and filling in a leadership role defined Thorp all year and throughout her career.
She had the ball in her hands when it mattered most or was there to provide leadership whenever her team needed it.
“What you lose, it’s hard to even sum up,” Burks said. “You lose somebody that every coach should have the pleasure of working with at some time in their career.”
But now she’s ready for the next step in her life and her playing career. Thorp joins an NIU team that is starting anew under Bennett.
With that change comes a defensive system that Thorp has been excited about playing in since first hearing Bennett speak at her introductory news conference.
She won’t be doing it far from home, a big perk in her decision to sign with the Huskies.
“Probably being on my own,” Thorp said about what she’s looking forward to most about college life, “but still being close enough to see everybody.”