From a Comet to a V-Hawk

Viterbo University coach Lionel Jones and Cameron senior Tori Gerber are photoed Monday, April 22, as Gerber announced her intention to play basketball with the V-Hawks in La Crosse.

It was a big week for Cameron senior Tori Gerber, who officially announced her intent to play basketball at Viterbo University in La Crosse just days after being named a finalist to receive the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (WIAA) prestigious Statewide Scholar Athlete Award.

Gerber has excelled both academically and athletically in her time as a Comet. She has received 10 varsity letters in cross country, basketball, and track and field.

She earned All-Conference first team honors in cross country all four years and was a second team selection in a loaded basketball conference this season. Gerber was team MVP in cross country 4 years, track and field 2 years, and basketball 1 year.

In addition to her athletic accomplishments, Gerber is set to graduate atop a class of 66 seniors. At Viterbo, she’ll receive a partial academic scholarship. The V-Hawks play in NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) Div. 2 and don’t offer athletic scholarships at this time.

At Viterbo, she’ll play under a coach with ties to the Cameron basketball program. Lionel Jones coached at Durand High School until taking the Viterbo job in 2018 and coached on state All-Star teams with Cameron’s Kim Weber.

It’s no surprise that both Durand and Cameron have grads among Viterbo’s recruiting class of 10 incoming players.

“One of the first things that I look at when it comes to a recruit is a person’s character,” said Jones, who coached the V-Hawks to a 9-19 record during his first season at the helm. “Tori has high character. She is one of the best athletes I have ever encountered at the high school level and she has just scratched the surface on her development as a basketball player.

“I think the way we are going to play and how we are going to develop our players will definitely benefit Tori. I can’t wait to see her on the floor in a Viterbo University uniform.”

Coach Weber agreed.

“Tori has been a tremendous role model and leader for our program,” she said. “Her work ethic and drive is amazing. She puts her heart and soul into anything she does.

“She always goes the extra mile; when she wants something she goes after it and gets it. She never complains, is always so positive and supporting on and off the court.

“She is a kid with very high character! She is a great teammate, always helping out younger players. She always thinks about the team first. I’m so proud and blessed to have coached her high school career. I love her like my own child.”

At least thus far, Gerber’s accomplishments on cross county courses and tracks surpass what she has done on the hardwood.

“Being both Tori’s father and coach, I have an opportunity to see how much extra time she puts into her academics and sports,” said David Gerber, who added cross county head coach to his many roles at Cameron. “She is very competitive, which helps to motivate her.

“Tori trains all year and rarely has a day when she doesn’t work out. She is very dedicated to everything necessary to improve, including training, nutrition and sleep. I think her weekend workouts give her an edge over many other athletes. Tori trains hard both Saturday and Sunday, normally doing endurance, speed and core workouts. The extra workouts allow her to work harder in practices and games. You never wonder what percent of effort you’re getting from Tori.”

Tori Gerber was a four-time qualifier for the state cross country meet, helping the Comets to a team sectional title last fall. This spring she could qualify for another track and field state tourney.

“I have had the honor of having Tori compete in CHS track and field for the past 4 years,” coach David Martin said. “She has earned a varsity letter and various team leader awards each year. 

“Tori provides a tremendous amount of positive energy for the track and field team. She is often seen mentoring and encouraging the younger athletes, and is always willing to share her time and passion about competing and running.”

Gerber was a member of Cameron’s 800-meter relay team that qualified for the state track and field meet in 2017. That team finished eighth for Div. 2. Cameron will compete in Div. 3 this year.

“Along the way, that relay team set and broke many schools records,” Martin said. “Tori, along with her teammates, still holds the school record for the 800M relay. Tori also holds school records in the indoor and outdoor 400M dash and the indoor 1600M run.

“In her first two seasons, Tori showed a lot of perseverance, as she overcame injuries that limited some of her performances. Through hard work and determination, she is now able to compete at each track and field meet at a very optimal level. 

“Today, Tori continues to provide enthusiasm for the track and field program. She is often seen doing two-a-day workouts, and provides a good example of school and community pride and spirit for her teammates to follow.” 

Scholar Athletes

Gerber is among 16 senior girls and 16 senior boys who were selected as finalists for the 2019 WIAA Statewide Scholar Athlete Award. More than 1,000 scholar athlete finalists have been recognized since the program began in 1984.

To determine the top 32 finalists, four boys and four girls were selected – based on both athletic and academic achievement – from each of four WIAA divisions.  

This year, 823 seniors were nominated for the award by 417 high schools throughout the state. The finalists, as well as their families and school representatives, will be recognized at an awards ceremony Sunday, May 5, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Wausau. 

Each finalist will receive a medallion and certificate, and a plaque for display in their school’s trophy case. Keynote speaker will be Lance Allen, main sports anchor at Milwaukee’s WTMJ-TV and co-host of Packers Live. A webcast of the ceremony will be available at during and after the ceremony, beginning at 1 p.m. 

Gerber is a Div. 3 finalist. Among the Div. 4 finalists is a senior very familiar to the Cameron athletic program, Kiana Fall of Clayton. Fall has received 11 varsity letters in volleyball, basketball and softball.

She was a member of a state champion volleyball team, and All-Conference first team in basketball 3 years, softball 3 years and volleyball 2 years. She’s graduating first in a class of 32.

Among the Div. 2 finalists are Madelyn Granica of Amery and Hayward’s Emily Neff.