Saying Goodbye to Three Women's Basketball Stars

    The basketball court and women’s locker room at RIMAC Arena will be a little quieter and a little less filled with talent now that three of UCSD’s top women’s basketball players are graduating.

    Photos courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    This June, Triton stars Ashley Kokjohn, Kim Neal and Genevieve Ruvald will all be moving along in life, moving on to the next big thing.

    All three will be leaving a lot behind here in La Jolla.

    Kokjohn brought hard work and defense to the court. She was a rebounding machine. If a shot was missed, she would always be in position to scoop up the board, averaging almost nine per game her senior season.

    “”She’s very tenacious,”” said women’s basketball head coach Judy Malone. “”She goes after the boards. This year she played against players much bigger and taller. She finished fourth in rebounding but was the smallest in the conference.””

    Kokohn was a team leader who brought a strong will to the locker room.

    “”She was always a great defensive person,”” Malone said. “”She brought leadership and was the team captain. She had a good work ethic. She got a lot of quiet respect.””

    Despite her job description as dominating the boards and stifling other teams with defense, Kokjohn did manage to average 8.5 points per game her senior year.

    “”She’s not much of a scorer but we never needed her to score,”” Malone said. “”If you can rebound, you can play for me.””

    Kokjohn planned on coming to UCSD and wanted to give the team a try.

    “”She recruited us,”” Malone said. “”She wanted to come to UCSD, so she contacted us. She played a lot as a freshman.””

    Neal was instrumental in keeping the Tritons in tough games. This year she averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds.

    “”She had that unstoppable hookshot,”” Malone said. “”She was our co-best offensive player [with Fok]. She was pretty unstoppable.””

    Neal had a great career here at UCSD, but it was marred with injuries throughout. At various times in her UCSD career, Neal suffered from an ailing knee, kidney, back, ankle and shoulder, among other things. She ended up playing only 87 games her four years as a Triton.

    “”She got hurt every single year,”” Malone said. “”Every single year something happened to her.””

    Neal is a local from Vista and went to Vista High, making it easier for UCSD to get a good look at her.

    “”She contacted us,”” Malone said. “”We saw her play several times in high school.””

    Ruvald was a scoring machine and could be found contributing in almost every imaginable category. She led the team in scoring her senior year, averaging 11.2 points a game. She also averaged 6.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.4 steals.

    “”She was a top 10 player in every category,”” Malone said. “”She brought a lot of things to the table.””

    Ruvald was more than just a big-time player on the court, she was also a big-time participant on campus.

    “”She got the most out of college,”” Malone said “”She got into a lot of different things that contributed to UCSD.””

    The three were recruited as Division III players but were then thrusted into the Division II spotlight this year. All three turned their mad skills up a notch.

    “”Actually, I’m glad they got to play Division II,”” Malone said. “”I think they had a great showing. There is not much of a difference, except for quickness and strength. They adjusted quite well.””

    Every year players come and go; Kokjohn, Neal and Ruvald are the special breed that won’t be forgotten.

    “”We’re definitely going to miss them,”” Malone said. “”They brought a lot of leadership to the team. They will be hard to replace. We will wish we had all three of them back.””

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