Gold standard: Park grad Jackie Voigt Gophers' captain in 2011-12From becoming the first female athlete in Park High School history to earn All-State honors in three sports – soccer, basketball and track - to starting every game for the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team as a true freshman, Jackie Voigt has almost always raised the bar.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
Throughout her life, Jackie Voigt has been an overachiever.
From becoming the first female athlete in Park High School history to earn All-State honors in three sports – soccer, basketball and track - to starting every game for the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team as a true freshman, she has almost always raised the bar.
This year, Voigt will once again set the standard – as the Gophers’ captain for the 2011-12 season.
Park head coach Stephanie Tolkinen said she’s not surprised her former player earned the captain designation for Minnesota.
“Jackie has always been a focused, goal-oriented, driven person,” Tolkinen said. “She’s the hardest worker I think I’ve ever come across. She wants to be the best at everything she does, but she keeps a good balance between her family, her life and basketball.”
Last year, on the court, the 6’1” power forward started all 29 games she played as a junior, averaging 6.8 points and a team-leading 6.5 rebounds per game. Thus far, in her three-year career, Voigt has started 90 of 91 career games with career averages of 6.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Off the court, Voigt earned a degree in Sports Management from the University of Minnesota last spring – in just three years. She is now pursuing her Master’s Degree in Applied Kinesiology and hopes to perhaps be a college coach in the near future.
To earn her degree in only three years Voigt said she went to school year-round, taking courses every May term and every summer.
“I came in with the mindset that I’d have to be able to balance both basketball and school,” she said. “I think I learned somewhat how to do that in high school. But, they helped out a lot my freshman year and set me up on a good track. I think that really gets you prepared for how much you have to study and how much you have to work. I wanted to take full advantage of my scholarship and my time here. I think I accomplished that.”
On her new role as captain, Voigt said it’s just a new aspect of life she’s gotten to learn about.
“Just with being a senior it’s your job to help out the younger girls, but then with the title of captain it makes things a little more clear,” Voigt said. “The younger girls look up to us. It’s weird to us that we’re the oldest ones here. But, I think the past seniors and captains have done a good job of showing us how to be good leaders.”
Tolkinen said she can’t think of a better role model than Voigt.
“She brings such leadership and she has garnered so much respect,” Tolkinen said. “That’s just what she did here. She always has something good to say and worthwhile to listen to. She’s just going to be good at whatever she does, because she knows what it takes.”
In the midst of her final season of college basketball, and looking back on the past three years, Voigt said playing for the Gophers has been an “experience of a lifetime.”
“I have no regrets picking the University of Minnesota. I’m glad I made this decision,” she said. “I’ve had some great teammates and great coaches. I’ve gotten a great education and have graduated with my degree – which was my No. 1 priority. I think I’ve grown in a lot of different areas outside of basketball, too.”
Voigt said part of the reason she chose to play at Minnesota, was to remain close to her family, friends and other people who supported her while she was at Park High School.
“I think I’ve gotten tremendous support and have been able to do a lot because I’m close to home,” she said. “It’s those things that reassure me that I made the right decision coming here.”
Voigt is one of four seniors on the Gophers’ roster this year. The four senior players haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since their freshman year – something Voigt hopes to help change this season.
“Our goals and expectations are very high,” she said. “We want to make it a bookend to go back to the NCAA tournament. That’s our No. 1 goal and what we’re playing for. I just want to end on a great note. I’m going to leave it all at Williams Arena.”
In graduate school, Voigt needs to take only two courses this semester, which, she said, is allowing her to spend more time training and honing her basketball skills for her final year of college hoops.
“My days are pretty empty aside from practice and I’m able to get a little extra time in the gym,” she said. “That’s been nice.”
Beyond this season, Voigt said her future playing basketball is up in the air.
“I haven’t made any decisions, really,” she said. “Looking at it right now, I think I will probably be done playing basketball. It’s tough to say, though. I could change my mind and go play overseas somewhere. I don’t want to make any definite decisions. I don’t want to think about next year yet. I’m trying to focus on this season and doing our best this year.”