The San Jose State University women’s soccer team opens the 2007 season on the road at South Bay rival Santa Clara University on Friday, August 31.
Jackie Zabek is ready for the challenge against the eighth-ranked Broncos.
The senior will help lead her Spartan teammates into Santa Clara’s Buck Shaw Stadium for the 5:30 p.m. kick-off as one of three team captains.
“I felt honored,” remarks Zabek about being named a captain. “I felt that now I need to work even harder to make sure that I’m the most fit out of anybody (on the team), because you can’t lead if not by example. I tried to make sure that I was in good shape coming into the season. I never really thought I’d be a captain. It means a lot to me. It’s a privilege.”
The three-year letterwinner, along with fellow senior and tri-captain Kristin Krale, enters the 2007 season with the most career games played on the roster, having appeared in all 61 games over her three years, with 46 starts. Zabek is coming off a 2006 campaign in which she produced career highs of 18 starts, 27 shots, two goals, two assists and six total points.
“Among my personal goals is just to work as hard as I possibly can every game, and not let down,” says Zabek. “I don’t want to miss a game in my last year. I want to keep starting and staying on the field every game, the whole game. Even if I were to get hurt, just push through it.”
Growing up in Laguna Niguel, Calif., Zabek began playing soccer thanks to her father and one-time coach, Stan Zabek, at the age of five. Following some time with the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), she moved on up to club soccer at the age of nine and found immediate success with a State Cup title in her first year.
“We were playing up (an age level), so it was pretty cool,” says Zabek of the triumph early in her career. “We beat all the older kids. From there on out, I just kept playing club soccer through the years, up until I was like 18 years old.”
Zabek recalls the first time current fourth-year and then-first-year San Jose State head coach Dave Siracusa watched her play in person, with her scoring two goals to spark thoughts of bringing her into the program as a forward.
A difficult bout with anemia that lasted approximately six months while at Dana Hills High School stalled Zabek’s recruitment by several schools, including San Diego State and UC Santa Barbara at one time or another among others, and threatened to end her hopes of playing collegiate soccer. She fought off the blood disorder, however, with Siracusa and the Spartans still around to welcome the 5-11 midfielder north to San Jose.
“All of the (coaches) that were coming to my games, stopped coming, because I wasn’t feeling very well,” explains Zabek “I had less than half the amount of blood that I’m supposed to have in my body. I couldn’t keep up in games, and had to get substituted every 10 minutes. Coaches stopped recruiting me, but Coach Dave (Siracusa) still wanted me.”
Now a two-time Academic All-WAC honoree and two-time San Jose State University “Scholar-Athlete,” Zabek intends to complete her degree requirements in business management next May. Though she plans to seek employment at an accounting firm for the short term, possibly as a bookkeeper, she smiles while stating a longer-term desire to save up enough money to open up her own frozen yogurt store some day.
But before it comes time for any of that, Zabek, a total of seven other seniors and the remainder of her team have their sights set high for 2007.
Concludes Zabek, “Our team goal is to win the WAC, and hopefully then even win a couple of games in the NCAA Championship. We can do it. We have a very strong team.
“It would be so great. We deserve it. I think that we are the best team in the conference. We have come so far since I got here, when the program was struggling, and now we are so much better. Definitely, the biggest goal I have is to win the WAC.”
Past 2007-08 Friday Features
August 24 - Jackie Zabek, Women's Soccer