Seventeen year old Jane Campbell hopes to follow in the footsteps of Hope Solo and Briana Scurry as a U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper. Photo Credit: U.S. Soccer
U.S. Soccer News: Georgia Teen Jane Campbell Makes the Grade with U.S. Women’s National Team
“Charming, well-spoken, polite and relaxed” are all terms that describe U.S. U17 Women’s National Team goalkeeper Jane Campbell off the field. On the pitch, however, the words that come to mind include “passionate, determined and dedicated.” Campbell describes herself on the field as “competitive, bossy and loud.” Any way you describe her, Carolyn Jane Campbell is making her mark in the world of soccer at a young age.
When U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Tom Sermanni named Campbell to the first team roster, the soon-to-be 18 year old (in February) became the first high school player to be called up since Amy Rodriguez in 2005. Just to put this in perspective, back in 2005 Campbell was just ten years old. Campbell is also the youngest goalkeeper on the roster since then-18 year old Hope Solo debuted in 1999.
Playing goalkeeper, perhaps the most challenging and visible position in soccer, may have been foreordained for Campbell. Both of her parents were collegiate athletes – her mother in crew and her father in hockey and crew – as well as U.S. Navy pilots. Her father, Mike Campbell, even flew with the elite Blue Angels as well as serving four tours of duty on aircraft carriers. Young Jane began her soccer career at age four and never looked back. Since first hitting the pitch, the Kennesaw, Ga., native has played club soccer with Atlanta Silverbacks Youth, North Atlanta Soccer Association and now Concorde Fire South. With her parents by her side, Campbell traveled to Indianapolis recently for NSCAA.
“As a goalkeeper you’re always really involved and you always have to stay checked in the game,’ Campbell said in an interview at Darlington School, a boarding school in Rome, Georgia, that she attends when not away on national team action. “I like the pressure that comes with the position. As a goalkeeper, if you mess up that could be winning or losing a game.”
Winning has become a habit for Campbell, who backstopped the U17 team to victory in the 2012 CONCACAF tournament and a berth in the 2012 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan. In the qualifying tournament Campbell did not concede a goal in all 450 minutes of play, earning five clean sheets. In the World Cup she allowed just one goal in three matches and shut out eventual champion France.
Chad Liddle, the Director of Darlington School Soccer Academy, has been a key part of Campbell’s success the past several years. “Being on this journey with Jane Campbell has been one of the best experiences in a coaches' career,” he said. “I have been fortunate enough to have trained Jane for the past six years and see her incredible drive and work ethic on a daily basis. Jane came to the Darlington School Soccer Academy as a residential student three years ago. This decision to take the path less chosen and be a boarding student has helped her augment her soccer training environment and educational opportunities.”
Fortunately for Campbell, her school has been extremely supportive of her soccer career, even when she is away for weeks at a time. In her Darlington interview Campbell related how her English teacher would video classes and post them through the school’s assignment page. As part of these videos her classmates have provided their own vocal support.
“Jane has taken some of the most difficult and challenging academic courses offered at Darlington School, a nationally respected college-prep independent school. Jane has taken and excelled with AP level classes, all while traveling all over the United States and world with U.S. Soccer, ECNL, ODP, and id2 of US Club Soccer.
Campbell began her U.S. Soccer career as part of the U14 I.D. camp in 2009 and hit the field with the U15 squad in 2010. Her identification by U.S. Soccer was in large part due to Liddle, who has been National Instructor Staff for Goalkeeping with the organization for nearly 15 years.
“Jane's National Team identification occurred when the U16/17 National Team coach at the time, Mike Dickey, was instructing with me the US Soccer ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘’" licenses held here at the Darlington School Soccer Academy,” Liddle explained. “I told Mike he needed to see this young lady I was training. I called Jane and her parents drove her up to Darlington to be a demo player for the Goalkeeping sessions I had to instruct for all three of the licenses that week.”
“Mike Dickey and David Rubinson saw Jane for two or three sessions and knew they had to call her in to the next National Team camp just a few weeks away,” Liddle continued. “Since that moment on, Jane was called into every camp leading up to the World Cup this past fall 2012.”
With predecessors like Solo and Brianna Scurry, Campbell knows she has some big cleats to fill in goal – but she is up for the challenge. ““I think it’s hard but at the same time challenging and exciting knowing that bar is set so high,” she told U.S. Soccer in May 2012. “Hope Solo is the best goalkeeper in the world right now and if I want to be like her I have to keep reaching my own smaller goals.”
Right now her own goals include having a successful first full National Team camp, graduating from high school and starting college. She has committed to attend and play at powerhouse Stanford, one of the 2012 NCAA College Cup semifinal teams. No matter where life leads, being immersed in soccer is sure to be part of her future. At NSCAA, I asked Campbell what excites her and she looked around as if searching for a soccer ball and then with a little nudge from her mom said "College!" Even Stanford may not shine as bright at playing for the U.S. Women's National Team and being coached by Tom Sermanni.
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