As a freshman last year, Jane Owen played in 2 games. She did not come in at the same level as most of the girls on the team, and she has been working to catch up ever since. JO plays center back, and it is not a position where I substitute very often. If you are not #1 or #2, you get very little playing time. The great thing about Jane Owen is that she trains so hard at center back that she makes our forwards better at practice. For a coach, this is a great situation. For Jane Owen, it is probably not her ideal role, but she continues to work hard at it.
On Wednesday, I was making the travel team for the last trip, and Jane Owen's name was in the bubble of players who might not travel. She was on the travel team in the morning, then not on the travel team after lunch. She was definitely a player I would evaluate in Wednesday's practice to make a final decision. While JO was working hard at center back, I thought about how she almost scored a goal against SEMO. We have some forwards who are injured, and I needed to take more forwards than defenders.
While we were in Missouri, I told Jane Owen that there was a slight chance that she might play forward against Missouri if I had to go deep into the bench. I told her to make sure she watched the center forward during the game. Since we only played 30 minutes, I did not go deep into the bench that game, but I did have to play a lot of players against SEMO on the 100 degree turf. Andy came up to me during the game and told me he thought we could put Jane Owen in the game at forward. She ended up having a great scoring opportunity, and the goalkeeper made a good save.
Wednesday's practice was 1.5 hours, and in 90 minutes Jane Owen's training habits took her from not travelling to the travel team. She did not get in Friday's game against Eastern Illinois, but when she played on Sunday, she scored a goal against Indiana State. JO will do anything to help her team, and she just keeps finding ways to help us and herself.
It takes an excellent attitude to embrace your role, like it or not, and find ways to help the team in your role. If a player can help the team within her role, then her role is more likely to change or grow.
One more thing. When we had our team meeting on Friday night, JO had some of the most important observations and said some meaningful things to her coaches and teammates. Probably the best thing she said was that it was a privilege to be on the team, to travel with the team, and to play in the games. She told her teammates to not take that privilege for granted, because there were other people who would do anything to earn that privilege and/or take a player's place.
I hope everyone can be as good a teammate to Jane Owen as she is to them.