The Ottumwa Courier

February 21, 2013

Home-grown Hoeck named to IHCC Hall-of-Fame

SCOTT JACKSON
Ottumwa Courier

OTTUMWA — It’s no surprise that Jill Hoeck is about to become an Indian Hills Hall-of-Fame inductee.

Indian Hills has been a part of Hoeck’s life for a long time, from her playing days on the Warrior volleyball team to her current job as a recruiter for the school.

From the early days, when Hoeck developed a bond while growing up at Ankeny with the man that would eventually lead the Warrior volleyball program to new heights, the school and Hoeck were destined to come together.

“Terry Carlson was the same coach at Indian Hills that started me playing volleyball at Ankeny when I was in fourth grade,” Hoeck said. “I was friends with his daughter. We grew up playing volleyball together and after (Carlson) took the Indian Hills job, I always went to the school to visit.

“I remember growing up rooting for Indian Hills. When it came time to choose a school, it made choosing Indian Hills much easier.”

As a two-year starter with Indian Hills, Hoeck played a very significant role in leading the program to places it had never been before. For her record-setting play as the setter of the Warriors only two national tournament volleyball teams, Hoeck will be honored Saturday night as just the second IHCC spiker inducted into the school’s athletic hall-of-fame.

“I’ve been a fan of this school for a long time,” Hoeck said. “It’s going to be crazy that my name is going to be there on the hall-of-fame. I feel like I’m excepting it on behalf of my teammates, my coaches and all the people that have brought me to this point.

”Academically, athletically and professionally, Indian Hills has been the cornerstone for me.”

Hoeck will joining a teammate that played a equally significant role in both the Warriors’ success and the on-court success of the former Ankeny star. As the setter, Hoeck routinely set-up Jebet Sang at the net as the a former Olympian smashed her way to her own hall-of-fame IHCC career in 2004 as the Warriors made their first of consecutive trips to the national tournament.

“Playing with Jebet and learning about all the traditions of the international players was so amazing,” Hoeck said. “Obviously playing with them was also amazing, but having someone like Jebet on the team let me know we were going to be very successful.”

Hoeck fit right in with her pedigree of success on the volleyball court at IHCC, who came into the 2004-05 season getting within one round and two wins of the national tournament each of the previous two years. With several returning players and the addition of Sang as a dominant net presence, the Warriors pounded their way to their first-ever national tournament berth.

The trip to West Plains, Mo. simply wasn’t enough for the Warriors. Indian Hills fought valiantly on the way to a third-place finish, capping the tournament by sweeping the Western Nebraska team that kept them from their first two trips to nationals as Hoeck added the tournament’s Outstanding Setter honor to her first-team all-region selection as a freshman.

“It was kind of new experience to be on a team with international players. I learned so much in that first season on how to communicate on the court,” Hoeck said. “I learned so much about how to play that position and after the first few weeks of that season, I really knew we had a chance to be a very successful team.”

The breakthrough season set the stage for a year of transition for the program as a whole. Not only did Hoeck’s sophomore season feature an Indian Hills team that was expected to be part of the national tournament field, it also featured a head coaching change as longtime coach Terry Carlson stepped down after finally getting IHCC volleyball to the national stage for the job as athletic director. Tori Fowler would take over the reigns as Warriors volleyball coach.

“We only had two sophomores that first year and we had seven sophomores including myself coming back,” Hoeck said. “We just worked hard at it. We were more motiviated to get back to the national tournament. We took it upon ourselves as sophomores to work hard and show everyone what it took to get there.”

IHCC provided one more exciting first for the program in Hoeck’s sophomore season. Indian Hills hosted a district tournament for just the second time in program history and, for the first time ever, clinched a national tournament berth at the Tom Arnold Net Center by beating Lakeland in four games to send the home crowd into a Saturday afternoon frenzy.

“That was definitely the best. Our families were all there and they got to share in that with us,” Hoeck said. “Just because you have great players doesn’t mean that you will have a great team. You have to work for it and that was the payoff of that hard work.”

For Hoeck, that day will also be memorable for the success of her former high school program.

Hoeck finished her IHCC career with an incredible florish as the Warriors finished fifth at their second straight national tournament. Starting at setter for two national tournament teams allowed the Ankeny native to become the school’s all-time record holder for assists in a career with 3,254 and had the top two single-season assist records in IHCC history with 1,396 as a freshman and 1,649 as a sophomore.

Hoeck also earned national praise for her play, being named first-team All-American by the NJCAA and the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

“I didn’t come to Indian Hills looking to set any records and I didn’t think it about at all while I was playing,” Hoeck said. “It turned out to be a very nice surprise to all the great things we accomplished as a team.”

Hoeck would finally venture outside the Hawkeye State to conclude her volleyball career, starting at setter again for the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Just as she did at IHCC, Hoeck started every match and finished fifth all-time in career assists and second all-time in assists per match in UNCW volleyball history.

But her heart has always remained at Indian Hills. Now, Hoeck is trying to help other young men and women experience what it’s like to be an IHCC student as the soon-to-be hall-of-fame athlete is now also a recruiter for the school.

“I use that experience of being a fan of this school in my job as a recruiter,” Hoeck said. I want to show that sense of pride to the students that are thinking about coming to the school. The best way I can do that is be as good as I can at my job.

“After this weekend, I can use my name in the hall of fame as a recruiting tool when I’m showing the students around the school.”