Jordan is following in his parents' footsteps
By Jake Andersen
One of Jordan Belka’s favorite memories growing up was playing 2-on-2 basketball in the backyard. Along with best friend Trevor Brenning, they’d take on Jordan’s dad, Joe, who teamed up with Jordan’s younger brother, Peyton.
The tandems took part in many tight battles over the years, but Jordan hints they wouldn’t have been so close on the full court.
“We always use to play on the half court in the backyard because I didn’t think my dad could get up and down the full court. His knees couldn’t do it anymore,” Jordan said, laughing.
While the knees may not work like they used to, it’s safe to say Joe probably had more left in the tank than Jordan cares to admit.
Growing up, Joe was a dominant, 6-foot-9 post player at Dilworth High School, eventually landing himself a basketball scholarship to play at Mankato State University. There, he went on to win Team MVP and all-conference honors as a senior before heading to play professional basketball overseas with the Derby Bucks for England. After one year with the Bucks, he found his way back to the states to finish up a degree at Mankato State and pursue a job in teaching.
Years later, he works as a health teacher at Rogers High School, while coaching the boys basketball team. Of course, that means he hasn’t just been Jordan’s dad, but he’s been his coach — something that Jordan has thoroughly enjoyed over the years.
“I love him as my coach and I wouldn’t want any other coach, especially throughout high school,” Jordan said.
To be exact, Joe has coached Jordan since travel ball in fifth grade, witnessing Jordan grow into one of the top players in Royals history and develop a game unique from his own.
“He was never the best player growing up. To be honest, he is what most would call a ‘late bloomer,’” Joe said. “I have an appreciation for his game because I know the countless hours he has put into it to make himself the best player he could be.”
He added: “Jordan is a much different player than I was. He is much more skilled, shoots it better and is a better all-around player. I was more of a power player who played above the rim. My game developed throughout college and overseas to where I became a better face up player with good range, but Jordan is much further along as a player than I was at his age.”
As Joe alluded to, Jordan is what many would call a “stretch forward,” with the ability to beat you from the outside, but also hurt you in the paint. After sprouting up approximately 8 inches to 6-foot-6 during his freshman season, he had to rely on his dad to teach him the ropes in the post. Yet, Jordan’s mom, Rita, helped him develop his outside game from an early age. As matter of fact, she was Jordan’s first coach, coaching him from first to fourth grade.
Like Joe, she played basketball at Mankato State University, winning Team MVP and all-conference honors after her senior season. But, unlike her husband, she possessed a better outside game, including superior shooting, passing and dribbling skills, giving Jordan the best of both worlds.
While Rita sees glimpses of herself in Jordan’s game, she also admits that Jordan’s ability surpasses her own.
“Jordan is way more skilled then I ever was. We have the same looking follow through on our shot, but other than that, he has the ability to go inside and out,” she said. “At only 5-foot-8, I was an outside jump shooter. The 3-point shot was brought into the game my junior year, so it is way more part of his game then it was mine, so my advice is more of the mental side. I try to be the cheerleader, pick him up when he is down, motivate when he needs a push.”
Taking bits and pieces from his parents’ games, Jordan has sure blossomed into quite the all-around player. The senior captain finished his last high school season averaging a team-high 23 points and 9.2 rebounds, while reaching 1,000 career points in a 53-45 win at St. Michael-Albertville on Feb. 22.
Additionally, he’s been named a 2018 McDonald Award semifinalist – which goes to the top senior player in the state – while making the Minnesota State Coaches Association All-Star Game. He also received Mississippi 8 All-Conference last season and is a two-time academic all-conference recipient, holding a 3.97 GPA. Most importantly, he led Rogers to their third straight conference title this season, leading the team in scoring two of those seasons.
Above and beyond that, Jordan’s stellar high school basketball career hasn’t only led to individual and team accolades, it’s led to something he’s always dreamed of: a full scholarship to play college basketball at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
“It’s very special (to receive a full ride to Northern State). It really meant a lot to even receive five scholarship offers to play basketball,” Jordan said. “Every single one was another realization that all my hard work paid off. All of those extra hours I spent in the gym and all of the sacrifices I made over the years are all paying off right now. It’s rewarding knowing that I get to play the sport I love while going to school.”
Jordan knows that he wouldn’t have accomplished this dream come true if it weren’t for his parents helping him along the way.
“Both of my parents have shaped me into the person I’ve become. They’ve always been helping me through life, through basketball, and everything else. I wouldn’t be anywhere near the person and player I am without them,” he said.
Unfortunately, Jordan’s senior year ended earlier than he would have liked after a tough loss to Buffalo in the first round of the Section 8AAAA tournament. But, in Joe’s mind, he has nothing to hang his head about, as their journey together on the court ends and a new one begins at Northern State.
“I am so proud of all that Jordan has accomplished. I know that we will look back on the journey and smile because we shared in something very special and had experiences that very few father and sons will ever have,” he said.