by Colton Campbell

Jessica Anthony has fond memories of kicking a soccer ball around with her dad and brother on Sunday afternoons when she was younger. It was their way of bonding.

Jessica AnthonyAnthony, a center-back defender on the University of West Georgia soccer team, has been playing the sport since she was in preschool – mainly because her older brother played soccer, and she wanted to do whatever he did.

“Since then, I’ve played for as many teams as I could – from the rec department, through middle school, high school and now college,” said Anthony, a senior studying health and community wellness. “Soccer has brought so many opportunities to my life. It’s given me a lot of friendships I’ll always have and leadership qualities that have given me a bigger perspective on life.”

Anthony graduated from River Ridge High in Woodstock, Georgia. In the first grade, the native Texan moved to Georgia, where she’s lived since. When she graduates from UWG – which she said seemed like the “best fit” when she was visiting colleges a few years ago – in May 2020, she’d like to work for a company in workplace wellness.

“I’d love to help businesses lower their insurance premiums by implementing health-based programs for their employees,” Anthony said. “That type of work really fits my aspirations for life, which are all about holistic living and being mindful about nutrition and wellness.”

In a position like that, Anthony will need to leverage a skill she’s honed on the soccer pitch, as well: communication.

“Being the last person (before the goalkeeper) who can defend against an opponent scoring a goal, there is a lot of communication that’s required,” she said. “I have to make sure the team maintains the shape we want it to maintain, and that requires calling to my teammates and delegating what to do.”

For Anthony, a great defensive move is just as sweet as a great offensive one.

“If you’re up against an opponent, one-versus-one, and you make a good defensive play, that’s the same feeling you get as scoring a goal on the offense because you’ve denied the other team the opportunity to score,” she said. “That’s an awesome feeling.”

As a senior, Anthony said she’s finding it easier to identify the types of personalities on the team – and cater her communication to each personality.

“I’m there to tell my teammates what their blind spots are – what I’m seeing that they can’t because they aren’t as far back on the field as I am,” she said. “That’s where the communication skills come into play again. Being able to read my teammates’ unique personalities and seeing how I should approach them has been hugely beneficial both in the game and outside it.”

Now that Anthony’s soccer journey is nearing its conclusion, she said it’s been a “grind” – to say the least.

“It’s not easy,” she said. “If it was, everyone would be doing it. But the hours you put in, and the dedication you give it, are all worth it in the end.”

Photography by Julia Mothersole

Posted on October 28, 2019