By Collin Bryant | Sports Writer
Junior forward Jackie Crowther has guided Lady Bears’ soccer to a seven-win season thus far, leading the team in goals with plans on continuing her tear. Crowther is a force to be reckoned with, scoring three goals in the first seven games of the season against teams such as Wyoming and Ball State.
Crowther has a diverse history outside of Baylor’s program that has added to her repertoire. She started playing soccer when she was 5, continuing on to play varsity soccer at Linfield Christian High school in Temecula, California.
It was there she received an opportunity that not only set the stage for her time here at Baylor, but also for her time on the Mexican National soccer team.
“I was playing for my club team in a tournament in Arizona, Legends FC, for regionals, and there was a recruiter there,” Crowther said. “I started playing for them the summer before my junior year of high school.”
Crowther said the recruiter was looking for players competing in the states that could join the Mexican soccer team he represented. After being on the team for some time, Crowther and her team made it to the junior Olympics, where the Mexican National team was impressed by her abilities.
Crowther said she never expected to compete for the team, but her heritage along with her skillset opened a door for her.
“I never thought that I would kind of have that opportunity. My whole family is Hispanic. My mom was born in Tijuana, and my grandparents were born in Mexico,” Crowther said.
Crowther said her experiences in Mexico have helped her develop a focus for the way the game operates.
“I think the really awesome thing about being able to be on a national team, and it’s not something that we don’t have here in college soccer as well, which has helped me grow in this aspect as well, but I think just a lot more focus on the tactics of soccer,” Crowther said. “Being able to see the game, and being able to play in Mexico, we eat, sleep, breathe soccer.”
Crowther earned an opportunity to play for Baylor’s soccer team during her time with the U17 Mexican national team. She said the timing allowed her to showcase her talents that earned her a spot.
“I don’t even know how to explain it,” Crowther said. “It just made me realize how much God was working through that, because it just kind of fit at the right time, at the right moment.”
Crowther said she heard Baylor was interested in her at a tournament. After beginning to establish a rapport with the coaches, it was her U17 World Cup performance that reeled them in. After Baylor popped up as Crowther’s No. 1 school on a college fit test and a campus visit, Crowther fell in love with the program.
Crowther has had to balance travel and practice for the national team and the Baylor soccer team along with being a Pre-Med psychology major. She acknowledges the difficulties, but is happy to be back to take everything on.
“[It has] definitely been a challenge trying to do both, right now I’m finally getting an opportunity to focus solely on Baylor, which has been great just being able to be here,” Crowther said.
Crowther missed the last two and half weeks of Baylor’s season fall semester of her freshman year for the U20 World Cup qualifiers, and around two months during fall semester of her sophomore year for the U20 World Cup.
Head coach Paul Jobson said Crowther’s opportunities to leave were beneficial for her as a player.
“It was definitely good for her. Anytime your players can go and get some outside experience, with different coaches at a high level…it’s only going to improve your program as a whole,” Jobson said. “So it’s not a little thing, It’s a big thing.”
While some programs would hold key players back from competition, Jobson understood the reason Crowther needed to continue branching out. He also cited the various qualities she has brought back and drills into the team mentality.
“While it really hurt us not having her last year for a majority of the season, I think the long-term benefits of her having been through that will really help our program to a greater effect,” Jobson said. “To say, ‘I’ve been away from here, I know what it’s like, I know how much I missed being here, I’m not going to take that for granted anymore, I want to instill that into my teammates.’ To me that was just a fantastic statement she said to me one day. I’m like ‘Man, Jackie, that’s valuable.’ Forget the soccer part, the mentality piece is crucial.”
Crowther will be looking to help lead the Bears to a victory this weekend, against the SMU Mustangs at 8:30 p.m. Sunday in Dallas.