Jackson Heights senior Kylie Dohl has led a big turnaround in volleyball and basketball for the Cobras. A four-year starter, she has recently set school career records for points and rebounds. Entering last week, Dohl had delivered 1,138 points and 641 rebounds.
She has averaged at least 11 points and 7.2 rebounds per game each season. Last winter, Jackson Heights girls reached state for the first time since 1999, and Dohl earned Class 2A second team all-state by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association.
However, seventh-year Jackson Heights coach Dan Shupe, a Cobra alum, is more impressed with Dohl’s off-court achievements. Shupe’s kids are among those who look up to Dohl.
“First and foremost, she’s just a heckuva young lady,” Shupe said. “She’s a great role model for young people.”
The 5-foot-10 Dohl, who has battled through knee pain that required a recent cortisone shot, plans to end her athletic career after high school.
Dohl wants study nursing at Kansas State and has a longtime goal to be a nurse anesthetist. She is a 4.0 student and president of a couple of school organizations. Dohl said being a role model gives her a “sense of pride” for “making a difference” in lives.
“I really enjoy that part of being an athlete and knowing that other kids are looking up to you every single day,” she said.
Dohl is part of a six-player senior class which features Makenzie Kennedy, Jodi White, Abby Brey, Grace Roles and Southern Raborn. Shupe and Dohl, who called herself “super competitive,” gave significant credit to the seniors and key junior Amaya Marlatt. Dohl is a four-year starter, White and Brey three years, and Marlatt two.
“Some of the most competitive people I know,” Dohl said.
Jackson Heights, which remains unranked in 2A, has opened 14-2, including a recent key win against ranked Jefferson County North, a Northeast Kansas League rival. JH has one of 2A’s top defenses with its point matchup zone. The Cobras are in the Horton sub-state that features Jeff County North (15-1), Valley Heights (15-2), JH and Horton (11-5).
“I never could have done it without the help of my teammates,” Dohl said of her individual records. “So I think a lot of the emphasis goes to them, and I never would have been able to make it here without all of them pushing me every single day, so I can’t thank them enough. It’s a really exciting moment for me but can’t thank them enough for that.”
After the late ‘90s, Jackson Heights struggled in girls’ basketball. The football team also went through a downturn.
“It was about a 15-year span there that we were at kind of the bottom of the league,” Shupe said of the girls.
Recently, though, Jackson Heights has second and third generation kids of former Cobras who previously enjoyed success, including this year’s senior class.
“A big thing is I have an awesome group of classmates, and we all decided when we were younger that this is something we wanted to turn around, and we wanted to be successful,” Dohl said.
The parents have had the kids involved at a young age.
“That’s kind of the key to anything is having that youth program really working and getting those kids to develop a passion for the game,” Shupe said.
Jackson Heights is located about four miles north of Holton. JH students mainly come from four towns: Circleville, Netawaka, Soldier and Whiting. Dohl, the middle of three children, lives in Netawaka, population 143, roughly eight minutes north of the school. All four towns have fewer than 200 people.
Dohl and others have greatly benefited from the Netawaka Fitness Center. Dohl has often spent time at the center, which calls itself “The Gem of all Gyms.” The place opened to the public in Sept. 2013.
Rare for such a small town, the 30,000 square foot Netawaka Fitness Center features fitness equipment, pool, batting cages, gym for basketball, volleyball and walking, and child care facilities. The Center has nearly 1,000 members. Much of the money came from Netawaka native Bobbi Reiman and her husband Roy, along with local donations.
“It’s kind of crazy to think about a multi-million dollar fitness center built in Netawaka,” Dohl said.
From 2007-11, Jackson Heights football won just six total games. JH football has turned around with coach Caleb Wick, a Smith Center graduate who has instilled SC principles with the Cobras. Notably, JH is 9-2, 7-3, 8-2, 9-2 and 9-3 the last five years.
This past fall, the Cobras reached the state semifinals, the best showing since ’83. Boys’ basketball won state in 2016 with Dohl’s brother, Braden, a sophomore on the squad. Braden played in all 26 contests. He was a three-year starter.
Kylie has engineered the big turnaround in volleyball. JH significantly struggled from 2012-15 and posted a 10-26 mark in ’16.
Since then, the Cobras went 20-18, 20-17 and posted a 37-4 mark last fall with a sub-state loss to Jefferson County North. Dohl easily led with 261 kills and 324 digs. In basketball, Jackson Heights opened the season with a loss to JCN and dropped one game since.
“It’s the most amazing thing,” Dohl said of community support. “We have the most close-knit group of people.”
Dohl has required physical therapy for her knee and had a cortisone shot around a month and a half ago. Dohl said the knee is starting to bother her “a little bit more.”
“I am doing all right,” she said. “Not a big deal.”
This year, she has averaged 15.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, shot 47 percent on 2-point shots and a career-best 30 percent from 3-point range. More than the statistics, though, Dohl is focused on the goal of leading her team back to state – and continuing her leadership role.
“You can’t say enough about her,” Shupe said.
This feature is presented by Wheat State Elite. Owner/Founder Dylan Evans and WSE are proud supporters of high school girls basketball coverage in Kansas with Sports in Kansas.
What is it like being a role model?
“Knowing like other kids look up to you, gives you a sense of pride, and knowing you are making a difference in their life, and it’s really important to be a positive, encouraging person for that.”
Jackson Heights draws from four towns. What’s the community support like?
“You run into people at the grocery store, and they are like, ‘Ah, great game. I saw you.’ And you are know they are there, because they are always there, and I think it’s just really cool that you can always count on other people. And you are going through it, it’s like they are part of the team just as much as everyone else, so I think that’s really cool.”
How hard was the choice to not play sports after high school?
“Super sad, but it would probably be the best for my legs recovering, and just academic-wise.”
What drew you to nursing?
“I’ve always had a big caring for other people.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“I think I will probably wind up in Kansas City area hopefully, somewhere in there. I don’t want to live super far away from my parents and all my family and friends.”
What is your most favorite place to eat?
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