Jenna Thorp has played organized basketball since she was 4 years old.
She is about to enter her final year as a member of the Northern Illinois women’s basketball team and has an eye on what lies ahead.
A season ago she set a career high with 5.4 rebounds and 6 points a game. The forward said she is looking to make her final year memorable.
“Individually, I think the biggest goal for me is just to improve across the board.” Thorp said. “I know last year I had a career high in rebounds, so I would like to improve on that as well as everything else. I want to become a more complete player.”
On the court she is a versatile player. NIU coach Kathi Bennett said Thorp adds much to the team.
“Jenna is one of our leaders on the court,” Bennett said. “She is what I call an intangible player or a glue girl, because she does a lot of things that don’t necessary show up on the stat sheet, but they help the team win overall.”
Thorp said she hopes to help the team improve off its 11-19 record from last season.
“Individual stuff is great, but ultimately it’s a team thing and you want to win,” said Thorp, who suffered a torn ACL during her freshman season. “What I want in my final year is to finish with a winning record, making the tournament would be a great thing, but I think above .500 is realistic.”
Off the court is where things are starting to become more interesting for Thorp.
While she is still engaged in playing college basketball, she has an eye on something more important – life after basketball.
“As emotional as it can be, life eventually extends beyond basketball and that’s something I understand and its why I have begun to pursue the things that I have,” Thorp said.
She has enrolled in graduate school this summer, pursuing a master’s degree in sports management. Her passion remains on the athletic scene even if after this year she can no longer play.
Another option that has emerged for her that could keep her on the court is transitioning from player to coach, something Bennett has encouraged her to do.
“I’ve been in her ear about this for quite some time.” Bennett said. “She really is just a natural, she sees some things that others just don’t, it makes her a smart player and I think it would make her a great coach.”
Coaching has become a realistic possibility for Thorp, as she considers what she wants to do beyond her playing career.
She has some experience coaching working in camps both at NIU, and with younger kids during her time in high school at Hinckley-Big Rock.
“I have worked with my old high school going to their summer league games,” Thorp said. “I was pumped to be there and help the girls along, it is definitely something I would consider in the future.”