Jackie Gonzalez has worked hard to achieve excellence in her position as the BC women's soccer goalie.
February 20, 2011
If you watch a BC Women’s Soccer match, chances are you will see Jackie Gonzalez in the net blocking, diving, saving soccer balls and yelling, “Let’s go BC!”
Gonzalez, who was born in Los Angeles, Ca., but grew up and lives in Miami, Fl., is the starting soccer goalie for the Bluefield College Women’s Soccer team.
Anyone can be an athlete or a soccer player, but it is the athletes and soccer players who have an extreme passion and love for the game who become successful and master the art of soccer. A passion and love for soccer can be seen in Gonzalez’s eyes and drive behind each dive she takes to save a ball and protect her net.
Gonzalez played a lot of different sports when she was younger before finding her true passion with soccer.
“I was just really involved in sports,” said Gonzalez. “I’ve played soccer since I was in the fourth grade. I can still remember seeing the flyer in town that wanted kids to play soccer. My mom asked me if I wanted to play and I thought I would give it a shot. I don’t remember my first practice, but I remember at first I didn’t like it. I started to like it, and the coach put me in the goal, and I just became the goalie.”
While playing for the Miami Springs Senior High School Girls Soccer Team, Gonzalez led her team to win a district championship, two regional championships, and two GMAC championships. The team also won two times Florida’s Class 6A Final Four competitions.
“My senior year I was also named first in Miami Dade County’s all second team," said Gonzalez. “I’m pretty sure I was the only soccer player in my graduating high school class who received a scholarship and went on to play at the college level.”
Gonzalez has played for the Coast to Coast Bandits, Miami Springs Eagles, Miami Springs Golden Hawks, the Kendall Soccer Coalition, and now the Lady Rams.
During the fall 2010 soccer season, Gonzalez won the Appalachian Athletic Player (AAC) of the Week and was voted Second Team All Conference as a goal keeper. She played 15 games for BC, allowed 27 goals, and had 129 saves to end the season. In the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Gonzalez, ranks number 22 in Division I in saves per game and number 28 in Division I in total saves.
“Playing for Bluefield has been a great opportunity for me,” said Gonzalez.“I love when people come at me. I’m the goalkeeper. I have an advantage; if not I would get killed.”
An advantage, indeed: soccer players are not allowed to use their hands, but the goalkeeper is an exception to this rule. The goalkeeper is the only player permitted to touch the ball with hands or arms in open play.
The concept of standing in front of a net and keeping soccer balls from finding their way inside sounds simple at first, but it is not. A soccer goalie has to be physically fit, on top of the game, fearless, and tough. It is evident that Gonzalez possesses all of the above traits.
“I’ve broken bones,” said Gonzalez. “During this one match, a girl come at me and thought she was going to go through me. I went to block the ball and I kicked her, breaking pretty much everything from her foot to her ankle. She had a freak out and was lying on the sidelines hyperventilating and crying. I still have a weird spot on my right foot from it. When you touch it, it doesn’t hurt; it just feels weird.”
Being physically fit, on top of her game, fearless, and tough are not the only things that the soccer goalie relies on. She also relies on luck. Every soccer match Gonzalez can be seen sporting her signature bandana.
“My bandana is black with white skulls; it makes me feel bad,” said Gonzalez. “It’s good luck. I wear it every match and don’t wash it until we lose. I even fold it a certain way.”
Another signature aspect of Gonzalez’s uniform is her cleats and gloves.
“I get a new pair of cleats and gloves every year because I wear mine out,” said Gonzalez. “My cleats are basically always green, but years ago, I got all black. They’re not a part of my good luck; they’re strictly fashion. I wear Puma gloves; they’re the best hands down. My gloves stink really, really bad. My hands stink all day after a game. I don’t spit in them like other keepers, but I do treat them with hairspray.”
Speaking of her uniform, her jersey is like a badge of honor. She has worked so hard and has earned the privilege to wear it. The goalie gets to wear a different jersey than the other players.
“Goalie is almost always number one and black, always,” said Gonzalez.
The goalkeeper attributes her soccer love and experience to her coaches.
“I loved soccer, but mostly I had some great coaches,” said Gonzalez. “I had one coach whose daughter played on our team and she was also a goalie, and every game the coach would put me in first over her.”
This year was the first season with BC for Lady Rams Head Soccer Coach, Samantha Snow. But she is already seeing the potential in Gonzalez.
“She’s got the potential to be a pretty good goal keeper,” said Snow. “Obviously she had the potential last year, but this year the competition is going to be a little bit tougher. If she keeps her work grade up and gets more fit than she was last year, than she has the potential to be pretty good and get some more honors.”
Gonzalez is majoring in Exercise and Sports Science and when she graduates from BC, she wants to coach soccer. Upon hearing of this goal, Coach Snow has some advice for the young goal keeper.
“She’s got to stay focused and keep her eye on the prize,” said Snow. “She’s determined and as long as she puts in the work, I don’t see why she can’t get to where she wants to be. She knows the game; that’s always a good start to becoming a coach.”