Jennifer Hucke addresses the crowd during Friday’s NIAA Hall of Fame Q&A session.
When Fallon’s volleyball team traveled to Las Vegas for the large-class state tournament 23 years ago, the players didn’t dress like a championship team.
They couldn’t barely put together an outfit.
“We played Green Valley. There are 16, 17 girls on the team. They had matching warmups. They looked great,” Jennifer Hucke said of her junior season. “We could barely put an outfit together. We had T-shirts with basically our numbers on them. We had eight, nine girls on our team.”
While their Las Vegas opponent dressed like a state champion, it didn’t matter.
“They had these massive girls on this Green Valley team and to come out and beat them with this little nothing of a team from Fallon was just such a memorable moment that will always stick with me,” Hucke added.
Thomas Ranson / LVN photosHucke, who led Fallon to its only two volleyball state championships in 1999 and 2000 before picking up two national titles at Stanford, was inducted on Friday into the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame after a two-year delay due to the pandemic.
Jennifer Hucke waves to the crowd during her introduction of Friday’s NIAA Hall of Fame ceremony in Reno.
“It’s the journey to get to those state championships. The coaches, the teammates, the parents, everybody that’s involved is part of that journey that makes it special that you remember,” Hucke said during a Q&A with Chris Healy, the evening’s master of ceremonies, and Donnie Nelson, interim executive director of the NIAA.
“It’s been wonderful to reminisce with my parents lately because it’s been a while since I’ve been in high school. We’ve talked a lot these last couple of weeks about my high school days.”
It was Hucke’s parents who ignited her drive for athletics, beginning with her mother, Pam.
“My brother (Will) and I would fight constantly, and she would get so mad at us. She would drop us off. It didn’t matter where we were. You’re running home,” Hucke said. “I didn’t want to be left alone on the side of the road. She always made us run to the stop sign and back before dinner, which was a mile away. She definitely was tough, but it was something I needed at the time.”
Her father, Richard, was the strength and conditioning instructor at the high school. The father-daughter duo would work out before and after school on strength, running and agility exercises. Hucke even holds the squat record at Stanford.
“I’m so thankful for everyone who has been in my corner my entire life and took me on this incredible journey,” Hucke said.
Provided by the Hucke family
Jennifer Hucke led Fallon to back-to-back state volleyball titles before earning a scholarship to Stanford.
During her high school volleyball career, Hucke garnered First Team All-State accolades along with an all-American honor and a national Player of the Year candidacy. She was invited to join the USA Volleyball’s national youth team, and she received a full-ride scholarship to perennial power Stanford University.
Hucke, who played for Fallon coach Caryn Marshall, was named the state and Northern Nevada Player of the Year in both 1999 and 2000. She was a pre-season all-American in 2000 and was ultimately selected the Gatorade Player of the Year after her senior campaign.
Hucke, who didn’t get involved in volleyball until seventh grade, credited Marshall for keeping her going throughout middle school and high school.
“I told her I wouldn’t have continued with volleyball if she wasn’t my coach,” Hucke said. “She would take me every summer to volleyball camps. She was my biggest supporter and advocate.”
Thomas Ranson / LVN photos
Jennifer Hucke receives her NIAA Hall of Fame plaque from former director Jerry Hughes, left, and outgoing director Bart Thompson.
Two years later, Ray Batalon and Jason Sterrett introduced Hucke to club volleyball. Batalon held a clinic in Fallon during Hucke’s freshman year and told her parents that she needed to get into club volleyball.
“Ray saw something in me that I didn’t. My foundation and love for the game came from Ray,” she said.
When she played for Sterrett, her team’s court would be flooded with college scouts because of the caliber of the players. Sterrett, who was at Sierra Nevada Volleyball during Hucke’s high school career, now runs Northern Nevada Juniors, which continues to send dozens of girls each year to continue their volleyball career in college.
“I’m jealous of what he has now,” Hucke said.
Before volleyball, Hucke thought her path would be playing basketball.
Hucke, standing at 6-foot-1, was a two-year varsity starter in basketball as a freshman and sophomore for Chelle Dalager. She enjoyed a high level of success on the hardwood in her first two winter seasons, but she decided to forgo the hoops over her last two years to focus on volleyball.
“That was probably the hardest conversation I had was with coach Dalager and that I can’t play basketball anymore,” Hucke said. “From that day on, she was my biggest supporter ever. She didn’t care. She was proud of me. She was just always in my corner.”
Hucke, who also played on the 1999 USA Youth National Volleyball Team, was inducted as a member of the inaugural class to the Greenwave Hall of Fame in 2017. She was inducted again in 2018 and 2019 as a member of the 1999 and 2000 volleyball teams.