E.A. Sports Today

Blazing a trail

Ohatchee’s Crook fulfills a long-standing dream of playing volleyball in college, signing with UAB fits her plan in so many ways

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OHATCHEE – Jorda Crook had her choice of sports she could play. She had her choice of colleges she could play for. Of all the sports and all the schools, it came down to a choice that really wasn’t difficult at all.

The Ohatchee senior will play volleyball at UAB after celebrating her signing at the high school Thursday afternoon.

“I knew from the second in seventh grade when I started playing volleyball I wanted to play it in college,” she said. “I knew basketball wasn’t my favorite but I kept going with it because I could be a help to the team and then I picked up track after I quit softball … to keep me in shape.”

The impressive thing about it, she is so good at all of them.

Every one of her coaches remarked on their experiences with Crook during the signing party. Softball coach Kendall Poe called her a “once in a generation” type player. Volleyball coach Rebecca Hughes agreed she’s “one of a kind.”

But it is volleyball where she’ll make her bones. Crook has been the singularly most dominant volleyball player in Calhoun County for quite some time. The numbers are staggering. During her career she compiled 2,035 kills, 345 blocks, 873 digs and 264 aces. She had more than 800 kills this season alone.

No one has ever measured the amount of force she exerts on one of those big overhead blasts opponents have come to fear, but super slo-mo will show the ball compressing when it connects with her hand.

“I’ve never seen (those numbers), I’d imagine they would be off the charts,” Hughes said. “As a team we’re always thankful that she was on our side of the court. That’s one of the things we always say.

“I can’t tell you how many times during practice I’ve ducked behind a ball cart and it still has hit me.”

And then Crook would turn sheepishly and apologize. And go right back to blasting it again.

That’s just her way. Shy and sweet outside the lines and hard-hearted competitor when the game is on. She’ll tell you “I’ve always just been a nice person” and doesn’t have a mean bone in her. She can’t tell you the last time she was mean to someone. She just takes volleyball and the things she does best seriously.

“Early on in her career it was one of those things where we’re saying we’ve got to get her more mean,” Hughes said. “That was one of the things we talked about. When she decides to be a mean competitor and have the thought that I’m in control of the game – which she is in the majority of games – when that switch flips she’s a force to be reckoned with. 

“She’s going to smack somebody in the face with the ball but then she’s apologizing for it. She has this intimidation factor about her on the court,  but it’s not a cocky intimidation. She’s confident and you’ve got to have that to go play college ball.”

The Crook File


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