Former Southeast Webster star enters basketball Hall of Fame
DES MOINES – Jennifer Jorgensen could never decide what her favorite sport was growing up.
Not that it mattered. Jorgensen – who now carries the married name Jennifer Watson – was a natural at almost everything.
Watson rewrote the record books in basketball, softball and track during her career at?Southeast Webster. Now, five years after graduation and in her first year of Hall of Fame eligibility, she was honored by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Saturday night for a second time.
“I was surprised and excited when I got the call,” said Watson, who was an Iowa softball honoree this past summer. “You never expect to get inducted into the Hall of Fame, but when you do, it’s very humbling.”
Watson was recognized during the Class 4A state championship game in Des Moines last night.
”It’s a really big honor,” Watson said. “It was great for one sport, but getting in for two is icing on the cake and something I?appreciate very much.
“It’s nice to get awards, especially when your done playing.”
It wasn’t hard for Watson to fall in love with athletics, as both her parents were college athletes. Her mother Virginia was a track athlete at Drake. Her older sister Angela, was a golfer and all-state pitcher.
Jennifer, also married an athlete, former Grand View baseball player Eric Watson.
Her father Mike, coached her in basketball and softball. Mike, now superintendent of schools in Washington, ran track at Drake and still holds the school record for the indoor 400 meters.
“She was a very hard worker. A lot of people assume it was all natural talent, but she worked very hard,” Mike said. “When she was younger, she was sometimes working on three sports at the same time, with track camps, volleyball leagues and spring softball. She was very dedicated.”
Being from an athletic family seemed to help Watson.
“I’d like to think it helped,” Mike said. “Both my wife and I had athletic attitudes and knew what it took to be successful. Jen’s personality is very similar. She is very competitive.”
Watson was selected to three all-state basketball teams, and capped her career on the hardwood by being named Miss Iowa Basketball in 2008.
She led the state in scoring and total assists as a junior and senior, and was the leader in rebounding during her senior campaign.
Watson also led the Eagles to the state tournament in both 2006 and 2008.
When her high school career wrapped up, she stood second in scoring (2,708), eighth in rebounding (1,184 and sixth in assists (621). Watson is the only player in the history of girls basketball with more than 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 600 assists.
“To be in the (softball and basketball) Hall of Fame is incredible,” Mike said. “It’s quite an honor for her.”
The toughest decision for Watson? Which sport to continue with in college. She chose basketball and went on to play at Grand View after transferring from Pacific University.
Watson flourished at Grand View, where she was the Midwest Conference player of the year as a junior and senior and twice was first-team NAIA All-American. As a senior, she was the NAIA Division II national player of the year after overcoming an ACL tear.
“Earning player of the year (NAIA POY) was one of the highest awards I ever received,” Watson said. “I put a lot of work in and the award validated that, overcoming some adversity made it extra special.”
After her playing career, Watson joined the Illinois State University athletic department and just finished her second season as an assistant women’s basketball coach at Illinois Wesleyan.
Watson was joined on Saturday by her husband, her parents and her 80-year-old grandmother, who flew in from Arizona.