Hebert-Truax honored to be part of Alaska Sports Hall of Fame (from www.asaa365.com)

January 6, 2014

Jeannie Hebert-Truax BasketballWhen it comes to a living legend, Jeannie Hebert-Truax of Wasilla is just about as close as we have in Alaska basketball.

She was a three-time high school player-of-the-year in the 1980s and an NCAA Division I All-American in the 1990s before becoming the most successful high school girls coach in Alaska history with 375 wins in 19 seasons.

Nobody from here has done anything like that.

She is in a class by herself.

And now she’s in the Class of 2014 that will be inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

“For what I’ve done with my career in the state of Alaska and outside the state of Alaska, it’s just pretty awesome to be recognized for it,” Hebert-Truax said.

“What I really like about this Alaska Sports Hall of Fame is that it’s not just basketball. They’ve looked at all sports in Alaska. You think of the things people have accomplished outside of basketball with dog mushing, hockey, football, skiing … to be clumped in that group of class is just awesome.”

This is the fourth hall of fame to honor Hebert-Truax.

It was the University of Miami in 2003, the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2007 and the Alaska School Activities Association in 2008.

“I’ve gone through life and worked hard at what I did, and I think all these accolades have just come from that,” she said. “It’s just what my mom and dad engraved in me. If you want to achieve something you go out and work for it. Trying to be the best at what I do and I enjoy what I do, and I have fun with it.”

In high school, she was the first Alaskan to win player-of-the-year honors three times. Was the top player in 1986 at North Pole and then 1987 and 1988 at Monroe Catholic.

She went on to play collegiately at the University of Miami, where she opened doors for Alaska players by becoming one of the few to make an impact at the D1 level. She wound up being one of the greatest players in Miami history.

She started 119 games and earned All-America honors in 1991. She finished her career ranked second in assists [694], third in scoring [1,766] and fourth in steals [237].

She was a 5-foot-8 guard who could shoot, pass and play defense.

At 43, she seldom plays competitively.

“I play with my girls every now and then, but I can’t do a lot of things because I’m not in the kind of shape I was in back then,” she said with a laugh. “I can play for only two minutes, and then I gotta take a break.”

Common sense suggests she would dominate in today’s game.

“You don’t have to be the fastest person, and I wasn’t when I went to college, but I was the smartest when it came to cutting off an angle and understanding if I take this step instead of that step I’m going to beat her there,” she said. “I have super good court awareness. I could see someone coming open before they came open because I could read the defense.

“It’s hard to teach young kids these days. I would have such a huge advantage over the high schoolers in this day in age in Alaska because of that court sense and peripheral vision. I can look straight ahead and see something off to my left going on and I don’t think you find kids in this day in age have because they are focused on their phones, their iPads and video games. They didn’t learn to broaden their peripheral vision.”

Hebert-Truax is now in her 20th season as the Wasilla girls coach. Since 2000, her teams have an eye-popping .860 winning percentage and four state titles.

It wasn’t always like that, though. At first, she struggled to find the right combination and her teams lost badly.

“People say, ‘You’re kicking my butt,’ and I say, ‘You used to kick my butt!’ I remember when we’d get whipped by 40 points. I remember because I was coaching,” Hebert-Truax said. “Nobody else has been coaching that long so they don’t remember back to those days. They just know the success that we’ve had.”

– Written by Van Williams