For most athletes, the transition from high school to college athletics is a challenging one which tests character, dedication and physical ability. Jessica Ingram, a freshman on the San Jose State women’s soccer team, is facing the challenge head-on and proving hard work and determination can lead to success and a promising outlook for the future.
So far this season, she has played in all 14 matches, started in the last 11, and earned her first collegiate point, an assist, in a 2-1 loss at the University of San Francisco on September 18.
Ingram began the season as a midfielder, but now plays defense. The decision to move her to the backline came as a result of a need at that position. “Jessica can play either position, but since we’ve moved her to center back from the midfield, she’s really become one of the best defenders in the conference. We’ve seen her develop a lot over the last two months and are happy that she’s solidified our backline,” said head coach Jeff Leightman.
Although Ingram is at the beginning of her collegiate career, she has embraced the role of being one of the team’s leaders. “Leadership depends on the personality of the player,” said Leightman. “Someone has to step up and be the leader. I think she’s done a good job filling that role.”
Leadership by example is nothing new for Ingram. While at Santa Teresa High School, she was named team captain her junior year and was honored as the Blossom Valley Athletic League Mt. Hamilton Division MVP. That season Ingram, along with current teammate Lauren Ng-Pinkerton, led the Saints to the Central Coast Section (CCS) semifinals.
In addition to her accomplishments in high school, Ingram has experienced success and recognition at the club level. She competed for the De Anza Strykers alongside current Spartan Stephanie Righetti. More recently she played on the Mountain View Los Altos (MVLA) Mercury, under head coach Albertin Montoya. While playing for the Mercury she won the Cal North State Cup Championship from 2004 to 2006 and advanced to the Far West Regional finals in 2005.
Playing with some of her current Spartan teammates at the club and high school level influenced Jessica’s decision to attend San Jose State University. “I chose to come to San Jose State because it was close to home and my friends are playing here,” said the San Jose native. “It helps to know your teammates. It makes it easier to adjust to and play off of them.”
In her first season at San Jose State, Ingram has relied on help from her teammates to adjust to play at the collegiate level. “The best part about playing for the Spartans has been getting to know everyone, having fun with my teammates, and having their support,” says the forensics science major. “Roxy Kamal (junior forward) and Lauren Moniz (senior defender and co-captain) have helped me the most with the transition. They’ve been really encouraging and have helped me adjust to college.”
Support from teammates has helped Ingram adjust to the accelerated and aggressive play of women’s soccer at the collegiate level as well. “Soccer at this level is different because it’s a lot more time consuming. It’s almost like a job. You have to be able to put everything into it. But working with the team has been really helpful,” said Ingram.
Leightman and San Jose State assistant coach Craig Winans appreciate the work ethic and progress Ingram has shown on a team which includes 11 freshmen. “Her transition from high school to college has been fairly quick,” said Winans. “We have a young lineup and it’s been nice to see her transition well alongside such a young group. She’s been a solidifying force.”
Soccer has played a significant role both on and off the field for Ingram. An interest and love for the game runs through her family. Her younger sister, twin-brother and older brother all played the game while growing up. In addition, both her mom and dad have had experience as soccer coaches. “Soccer has really helped keep our family close,” said Ingram. “Since I was young my parents have attended all of my home games. Seeing them there has been really encouraging.”
As Ingram continues to develop her skills at this level and strives to make a positive impact on the team both she and her coaches are excited to see what her future holds. Leightman believes Ingram’s potential can lead her to become a force on the team and in the conference.
“I think she’ll continue to develop both her mental and physical skills while continuing to grow as a player,” he said. “She’ll continue to rise and be one of the best players in this program for years.”
While Leightman is hopeful when considering what Jessica can contribute to the team for years to come, she remains focused on the team’s task at hand. “Our team goal for this season is to win the Western Athletic Conference,” said Ingram.
2008-09 Friday Features
September 19 - David Richmond, Football
September 26 - Yonus Davis, Football
October 3 - Hiroki Akiyama, Men's Soccer
October 10 - Homecoming Spartan Style
October 17- Jessica Ingram, Women's Soccer