Jade Rohach felt like the weight of the world was iifted from her shoulders when she recently verbally committed to a college volleyball program.
The star South Tama County athlete announced earlier this month that she had chosen a college to attend. Last Thursday, she made it officiai by signing a letter of intent to Clarke University in Dubuque, with parents, coaches and friends as witnesses.
"I'm very excited," STC coach Michelle Bradley said. "As a head coach, this is my first signing. I've said it all along, since I've been coaching Jade the past couple of years and I had her when she was younger, too, that if somebody doesn't snatch her up, they're missing out. I'm really happy for her. I think she'll do some wonderful things at Clarke."
South Tama senior Jade Rohach, seated center, signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at Clarke University last Thursday at the STC library. Seated beside her are her parents, Paula and Larry Rohach. Standing, from left, are Clarke head coach Chris Miron, STC assistant coach Holly Kupka, STC head coach Michelle Bradley and Clarke assistant coach J.P. Dorn.
Rohach struggled for months deciding where should would spend the next four years of her life. She visited a handful of colleges, but couldn't find the one that fit her the best...until she took a second trip to Clarke.
"Oh my gosh, it feels so good," Rohach said. "When I finally decided, I felt like 10,000 pounds were lifted off of my shoulders. Then when everybody asked, I could tell them I was going to Clarke."
"I went there twice," she said. "After my first visit, I wasn't really sure and then I went to Wartburg. I just kept thinking about Clarke and I couldn't find anything wrong with it for me. That's when I decided. It's really nice there and I like the campus. The coaches seem very nice and overall, I liked my visit there."
The choice of Clarke was one her parents, Larry and Paula Rohach, were pleased with, too.
"They were pushing for Clarke too," Rohach said. "They didn't want to give it away, so they gave subtle hint toward it. I have family up there, too, so hopefully I can see them."
Clarke University is a small NAIA school in Dubuque. Clarke head volleyball coach Chris Miron was thrilled to sign Rohach.
"She's very explosive in the frontcourt," Miron said. "That's one of the first things we saw as coaches. We see a lot of potential in her and a lot of athleticism. That's what we need on the team right now someone quick and fast to put the ball away for us.
"Just getting to know her - she's a great kid, fun to be around, has a great attitude and is a hard worker," he added. "I'm looking for a great career out of her."
Miron knew Rohach was right for his program just minutes after meeting her.
"She's a Clarke kid," Miron said. "It's kind of something we say when people come to campus and you can tell they fit and belong at Clarke. It didn't take more than 10 minutes of sitting down her to know she's a Clarke kid. We continued to get to know each other and it ended up working out from there."
Rohach will bring her 5-foot, 9-inch frame to Clarke. She played outside hitter and middle hitter for the Lady Trojans in the fall. She also played all over the court, but her primary role was up front. At the net, she could utilize her 26-inch vertical, speed and lengthy wingspan.
If given the chance, Rohach would klll a spike or block opponents kills. When asked which she prefers, Rohach said, "a big block", with a smile.
"It feels good and it pumps up the team,"Rohach said of blocking. "It's also a good way to stop another team's momentum."
Her leaping ability was something that drew the attention of Miron and area college coaches. Rohach's vertical was increased because Bradley implemented a jumping program during the Lady Trojans' fall season.
"(Jade) can jump out of the gym," Bradley said. "She can also block too. Her blocking is amazing. She can read a shoulder very well and when you have a 26-inch vertical and long arms, that's hard to get past. So, 5-9, no, she plays like a 6-2 or 6-3 player."
While Rohach can jump incredibly well, the rest of her skills should also translate well to college, according to her high school coach.
"She's smart," Bradley said. "Everybody wants to go up and kill the ball and she's a wonderful attacker. She can hit the ball like crazy, but she's smart. She would get up in the air and she was so good about looking on the other side of the court and finding a hole. She didn't always have to clobber it, but just put it there for the point. That takes a lot of smarts. She knows the game of volleyball inside and out. She can set, pass or serve. Finding an all-around player like that is amazing.
"Her skills will transition well," she said. "She will learn a whole lot, but knowing the game as well as she does, she will bring that knowledge to the rest of the team. Her communication skills on the court have gotten so much better, which is a sign of leadership. I look for her to be a leader and help Clarke go wherever it wants to go."