Prock to hoop it up at Tabor College

June 11, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

Go to a University of Kansas basketball game and the chant that deafens the thousands in Allen Field House is "Rock! Chalk! Jayhawk!"

Come November a different chant might be heard during women's basketball games about 130 miles south of UK at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan. The next big mantra to sweep Kansas could be "Rock! Chalk! J-Prock!," as in Jessica Prock.

The former Imperial Valley College and Southwest High School sharp-shooter will take her game to the NAIA level as she will next suit up for the Tabor Bluejays.

The IVC 2000-01 sophomore MVP will contribute the parts of her game that have made a name for her. She has become known as a three-point specialist and as a tough-as-nails rebounder not afraid to mix it up, which is exactly what then-Tabor coach Chanda Rigby wanted.


"She called (IVC) coach (Jill) Tucker and asked her if she had anybody who could rebound and shoot from outside. And that's exactly what I do, so coach Tucker gave her my name," said the 5-foot-8, 19-year-old Prock, capable of playing point guard, shooting guard or small forward. "She (Rigby) called me and we talked about me playing there. When I got that call I was just really excited about everything."

After working out for Rigby at IVC, Prock was offered a 40 percent athletic scholarship to play forward for the Bluejays. She verbally agreed, but Rigby said if Prock came across a better offer, she would not be held to her agreement with Tabor.

Before talking to Rigby about transferring to Tabor, Prock had been in contact with other schools closer to the Valley. She said she was initially hesitant to make a decision on attending Tabor and planned on visiting other schools before making a decision. During spring break in April she worked out with Fresno Pacific and Concordia University in Irvine.

Prock, who averaged 8.9 points and 5.8 rebounds last year, said workouts with Fresno Pacific went well, but a definitive offer wasn't there. After weighing her options, Prock decided her best choice was to head to the Midwest and play for Tabor.

Said Rigby in a press release: "Jessica will bring lots of collegiate playing experience to the team. She started in every game both years at IVC. She is a strong rebounding guard … she also has a great three-point shooting range."

One of the deciding factors that helped Prock choose Tabor was Rigby. Unfortunately for Prock, shortly after committing to Tabor, Rigby took a job elsewhere.

"That was one of the main reasons that I was going to go there, because of her," said Prock. "Not knowing who the coach is going to be and knowing that it'll probably be a first-year head coach … I'm kind of scared about that."

One of the things weighing on Prock's mind is a promise by Rigby about time off during the season. Because the season for Tabor runs from early November to late February, Prock would normally not have the opportunity to come home during the Christmas holidays. Rigby promised Prock three weeks off in December to spend the holidays with her family. But with Rigby's departure, that promise is up in the air.

If anyone can turn that type of negative into a positive it is Prock. Throughout her basketball career she has faced obstacle after obstacle and has walked away with much success.

Originally from Lebanon, Mo., Prock's family made the move to Southern California in the late 1990s. After a stay in Orange County, the family moved to the Imperial Valley in 1998, where Prock attended Southwest High in El Centro.

Unknown to most in the Valley, she quickly made a name for herself on the volleyball and basketball courts. After being one of Southwest's top scorers in basketball it was off to IVC to hoop it up for the Arabs.

While she was at Southwest, though, there was no women's basketball team at IVC. It was only after months of petitioning that IVC brought back a women's program. With the start of a program that had been dormant for over 15 years, Prock again faced uncertainty.

With the team up and running, Prock immediately made her way into the starting lineup, where she again proved an offensive asset. While things were working for Prock, they weren't going quite as well for the team, as the fledgling program was overwhelmed by other veteran squads, only winning one game in 1999-2000.

In the middle of her first season at IVC Prock sustained one of the first major injuries of her career, a broken right knuckle that sidelined her for the second half of the year.

Down but not out, Prock pressed on. She rehabbed the injury and worked even harder in preparation for the 2000-01 season.

Prock made her final season at IVC one of the best of her career. As one of the team leaders, she finished the season shooting 41 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point land in helping the Arabs to a remarkable turnaround season in which they finished 18-13 overall and 5-5 in the Pacific Coast Conference after going 0-10 in the PCC the previous year.

With another barricade thrown into her seemingly endless gauntlet and with the uncertainty of what she'll face at Tabor, Prock is set to take it all head on.

"All this is just another challenge I have to face," said Prock. "And just like everything else I've gone through, I'm going to try to overcome it."

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