Like many graduating seniors, Jackie Stobbe had a decision to make.
She was all set to head north to Reno with a friend to attend the University of Nevada. But then, late in the game, she had a chance to continue her softball career at the College of Southern Nevada.
Stobbe, who had played the game since she was 10, had not been enjoying playing at Pahrump Valley High School, but then her senior year came around, with new — and many — coaches and a different approach with very high expectations.
“I know when I stepped on the field the first day this season, I was skeptical,” Stobbe said. “By the second week, I knew this was going to be cool.
“By the time we won state and everything, I was thinking about it and realized I wanted to keep playing. This season just completely changed the way I feel. I didn’t even want to play in college.”
But totally changing direction is not an easy thing to do, even at an age when many paths could work out. So she talked with Trojans coach Cassondra Lauver about her dilemma.
“It was a stressful time, because I was feeling very back-and-forth about it,” Stobbe said. “One day Cassondra and I went to lunch, and we were talking and she was like, ‘Hey I’m going to reach out to a couple of people.’”
“There was a coach earlier this season who was interested in talking to my seniors, and she wasn’t really interested,” Lauver recalled. “But she had the conversation with the coach and learned about the possibility.
“After we won the state tournament she mentioned some things to her parents, and things took off from there. I’m happy for her, and if this is what she feels she wants to do, that’s awesome.”
There was little doubt Stobbe would be able to play at the next level. As a senior, she hit .484 with 8 doubles, 3 triples and 3 home runs. She drove in 40 runs and walked a team-leading 29 times to just 7 strikeouts for an on-base percentage of .607. But choosing to play in college at such a late date came with one possible hurdle.
“She didn’t think there would be any scholarship money at this point,” Lauver said. “The fact this coach offered her money on the spot… well, good for you. That is wonderful.”
Lauver, who led the Trojans to 30 wins and the Class 3A state title, says Stobbe has the right attitude to succeed in college.
“She is just a player who is coachable,” Lauver said. “She will listen to advice from any coach and try to apply it to her game. She just works hard. She’s athletic obviously, but she just has the grit to go after what she wants and the determination to be great at whatever it is she wants.”
CSN coach Ashley Johnston sees some of the same qualities in Stobbe.
“Jackie has many things that drew us to her, but the number-one seller was how coachable she was,” said Johnston, who led the Coyotes to a 16-31 record, 14-22 in the Scenic West Athletic Conference, in her first year at the school. “Jackie is very eager to learn and grow. She’s very passionate about softball and wants to get better.”
Stobbe went over to the CSN campus to show Johnston what she can do.
“My mom and I went and did the tryout, and it was like perfect,” Stobbe said. “I fielded at third and second and in the outfield, hit a couple of balls, and that was about it. Then we sat down and talked about everything and the changes she’s made in the program. “She was just very positive and very outgoing. She was intense, not as intense as Rich.”
That would be Trojans assistant coach Rich Lauver, and Stobbe gives him some of the credit for her being ready to play in college.
“Rich is very intense, very in-your-face, and that has definitely prepared me for any sort of coach I will ever meet,” she said with a laugh. “I feel like going through such a horrible season in the previous years and then going through this amazing season, going through the highs and the lows, it’s really prepared me a lot.”
As for the “student” part of student-athlete, Stobbe has a career goal in mind.
“Right now, I think I’m leaning toward special education,” Stobbe said. “I’ve been kind of up in the air, but I know I want to work with special-needs kids. My mom was a special ed teacher for a while, and now she’s a kindergarten teacher, and I just love being around kids.”
Lauver is excited not just to see one of her seniors get the opportunity to play in college but to be playing nearby.
“We hope to get to watch Jackie play in a few games and have the opportunity to meet the coach in person,” said Lauver, envisioning a potential pipeline for future Trojans. “But I’m just ecstatic for Jackie, just happy things worked out the way they did.”
So is Johnston.
“She’s a great versatile player on defense, but working with her for two minutes with her offense made me know that she was going to be a great fit for our program,” said Johnston, whose resume includes starting the softball program at Trinity Valley Community College in Texas and leading the Cardinals to a school-record 33 wins and a spot in the national championships in 2013. “We are looking forward to coaching Jackie for the next two years.”