The idea of a four-sport athlete, for the most part, has been limited to male athletes who have the luxury of playing summer baseball and additional sports in each of the other three seasons during the school year. But Oak Creek’s Jenna Dankert is far from ordinary.
It will be a busy fall again for Dankert, who served as the setter on the girls volleyball team as a junior last year and also did a little kicking on the side for the Knights football team. The second-team All Conference choice as a kicker is back for another go-around, even showing up on a list of “Others to Watch” at the specialist position put forth by popular state-wide preps sports site, Wissports.net.
“It makes me feel really good (to see that),” Dankert said. “All my friends are super happy for me.”
The idea of a female kicker on the football team isn’t the novelty it once was. It’s not new in Oak Creek, where Bianca Alarcon was honorable-mention All Conference in 2012.
“I grew up playing soccer, and there used to be a girl Oak Creek kicker, and I always said I wanted to do that,” Dankert said. “One of the coaches, Joel Paar, is a family friend of ours. My dad went to kick field goals with me one day, just because. I hit a 35-yarder, and he sent a tape to Mr. Paar, kind of as a joke, and he said, ‘You have to come kick tomorrow.’ ”
She joined the team midway through her freshman year and has been a part of the football program ever since.
But that’s not where Dankert’s impressive resumé ends.
It’s not unusual for soccer players to double up as football kicker, but with girls soccer in the spring, Dankert applies an entirely different skill set to the volleyball court.
“I've been pretty lucky with that,” she said, referring to conflicts in scheduling between the two sports. “One day (last year), I had a volleyball game on a Friday, but we were on TV (in football), so we were on a Thursday, and that worked really well.”
She eventually stopped playing soccer so she could focus on the AAU basketball season (she plays for the WBA Prestige), and she’s a key returning member of the Southeast Conference champion Knights squad that routinely competes to reach the state tournament. In the spring season, she’s a thrower on the track-and-field team, most recently taking seventh place in the WIAA state meet in the shot put and 11th in the discus.
“I missed finals by one inch (in disc), and in shot, I missed the podium by three-quarters of inch,” Dankert said. “Those were heartbreakers. They were my second-best throws of the season, so my coach was happy with me. It was just a bummer how close it was for me.”
In basketball, the goal will be to get to state after just missing a trip in 2017 with a sectional-final loss to Milwaukee King and finishing 21-4.
“I would like to play basketball in college, but track would be cool to do,” she said. “I actually have all my options open for anything, but my first option is basketball.”
On the football field, she’s content with primarily handling extra points She says her goal is to make all of them, though she does relish the prospect of handling some kickoff duties, as well. Those have typically been handled by others.
“I’ve always been super athletic growing up and done every sport possible, which has probably helped me a ton,” Dankert said. “All the guys are thinking we're going to state this year. I'm not there for the entire practice, but I think we'll be pretty good.”