For most the Sterling Invitational Tournament is simply a week full of basketball, but for some it’s a little more special than that. Sterling’s new Chief of Police, Derrick Ploutz, and his wife met at the Sterling Invitational Tournament.
In the Boys 26th Annual Sterling Invitational Tournament, senior Ploutz from Ellsworth High School was warming up at halftime while senior Jessica Crandall, now Ploutz, from Little River was keeping book at the scorers table.
“I was at the desk, which was different than it is now, and he walked over to grab a ball off of one of those old metal ball racks and he gave me one of those head nods and I was like, ‘hmm, he’s kinda cute,’ and I don’t know, that was probably when I started ‘stalking’ him,” Jessica said.
“Stalking” was a little bit harder 20 years ago than it is now, but Jessica had a head start.
“It was a very slow process compared to now, it wasn’t like I could just text him or facebook stalk him. We had some mutual friends, and I didn’t even realize who he was until later that evening I was thinking about it and I was like, ‘oh my gosh that’s the same guy I met last summer.’ It just kind of triggered the memory that, ‘oh yeah, I met him very briefly’ and then I knew that my friend knows his friend so we kind of sent messages back and forth like, ‘hey tell him to ask me out,’ and he was like, ‘no tell her to.’” Jessica said.
It took a couple months for the couple to start dating.
“Actually we didn’t start dating until June after we graduated high school, when she called me.” Derrick said.
After the summer the two of them parted ways briefly.
“He went to college at Colby and I went to Concordia, and then again I followed him there after one semester. He said he never got away, but he never tried very hard.” Jessica said.
Both graduated in May 2000 and married that same year in August. Derrick earned an associates degree in Criminal Justice, worked as a detention deputy in Thomas County from 1999 to 2001, then in 2001 began his law enforcement career in Haskell County where he was an undersheriff and worked as a school resource officer in the Sublette School District. Jessica graduated with a dental hygiene degree and worked as a registered dental hygienist at Effie N. Gaskill.
Their story came full circle when they moved to Sterling in September of 2017. Derrick was given the job of Sterling’s Chief of Police. Jessica currently has a fill-in job at Lyons Family Dental and is getting ready to start at Prairie Star Dental. They have two boys, Nolan (10) and Kevin (9).