RedRoo Sports alumni, and Dawson Community College Men’s Basketball Captain, Michael Jok, has lead the Buccaneers to their first ever invitation to the NJCAA Division 1 championship tournament.
Withstanding a late rally from Indian Hills Community College and on the back of Jok’s 14 points and 9 boards, the Bucs secured the 68-67 victory in their Regional championship and along with it, broke Dawson’s 60+ year tournament drought, punching their ticket to the NJCAA dance in Hutchinson, Kansas from April 19-24.
“Being in the tournament means everything to us and the community,” said Jok. “They waited 63 years for this and I’m glad to have been part that team that ended the drought.”
Dawson Head Coach Joe Peterson couldn’t have higher praise for Jok’s contribution to the Bucs success both on and off the court in season 2021. “Mike has been the heart and soul of the team,” he said via text. “He does it all for us – shooting, scoring, passing, handling the ball, defending and rebounding. And he’s our captain and team leader. He brings a level of maturity to us.”
Maturity that according to both Jok and Coach Peterson was a mandatory requirement as they faced up to a season of unknowns. “Coming in to this year”, recalls Coach Peterson, “we just wanted to enjoy every chance we had to play basketball, and try to keep getting better every day.” The mindset the coaching staff brought to the season translated to the players doing their part. Michael Jok’s take away was just how much work the team did. “We proceeded as usual. We all controlled what we could control. Season or no season we were focused on getting better every day. We worked extremely hard in the off-season. We had 6am workouts for about 2 weeks. Coach organised a total of 10 practice matches that gave us a lot of leverage over the other teams in the country, as well. Being great is not easy, which is why I never get comfortable with myself and my game. I worked extremely hard.”
Getting to college was no easy road for the talented Jok. With some college interest coming out of High School but no firm offers, Jok kept his skills sharp by playing in BigV Youth League competition at Waverley Falcons. He also went to work at RedRoo Sales and Service, developing his work ethic and leadership skills even further. RedRoo CEO, James Kerr, has watched Michael’s development since he was a teen. “I have a great respect for Michael. As a young man he always impressed me with his attitude. As an employee, I have seen first hand his values. He is a quality person and seeing him get to college and now be recognised for his leadership and have success in the game is a real highlight for me.”
Michael’s readiness for opportunities paid off when he was spotted by Coach Peterson, as part of an AAU Australia scouting combine in December, 2019. “We were told by our network of coaches in the US that some were looking for players to add to their roster in the Winter Semester”, recalls Brett Stringer, AAU Australia’s Head of Sport. “This turned out to be a great opportunity for exposure for a number of guys, and Michael was able to perform at the right time, in front of the right people. What has transpired since that moment is just awesome for him. He’s a great young man and we couldn’t be more pleased.”
The 2021 season has been a life highlight for Jok, but has also reminded him of the things that matter most. “I’ve learned a lot about myself”, he states. “The experience has been amazing. The bonds I have created are really special. I’ve learned a lot about myself, but what thing has really stuck with me is how dedicated I am to this game.”
That same dedication now has Jok, Coach Peterson, and the whole team of Dawson Buccaneers, staring into the face of the greatest opportunity for the Men’s Basketball program in school history. “It’s pretty surreal”, says Coach Peterson. “I don’t even know what to say but Praise God!”
Michael and his 19th ranked Buccaneers first round tournament game tips off 1am Melbourne time, Wednesday April 21.