By Michael Haag | Sports Writer
Over the past few years, there’s been one constant when watching Baylor soccer: graduate student goalkeeper Jennifer Wandt protecting the goalposts. Baylor’s backline has been stout, but knowing Wandt is right there behind them to bail them out has been irreplaceable.
Wandt is the all-time Baylor leader in shutouts and fourth in Big 12 history, with 35 shutouts in total. She also has six career conference weekly awards, which is a program best. Not to mention, Wandt is also the program’s all-time leader in minutes played at the goalkeeper position.
With those titles, Wandt is just thankful to be able to come back for her team for a fifth year. COVID-19 gave Wandt an extra year of eligibility, which gave her the option to meet and play with some teammates she would’ve never met had she been limited to four years.
“I’m just really blessed to be able to get a fifth year here, never thought that would happen,” Wandt said. “Just to get to play with the new freshmen that have come in and just to get to continue the relationships that I’ve built for the past four years is really special.”
Head coach Paul Jobson said he is glad to have Wandt at goalkeeper and knows just how impactful she is. Jobson said having her anchor the defense for the last four years has been huge. Wandt’s experience and presence on the field is a big part of Jobson’s team.
“She’s big time,” Jobson said. “With the way that we play defense, she doesn’t have to do a lot usually, but when she was called upon she had to make some really big saves.”
For Wandt, having a fifth year due to COVID-19 has been nice, but the events that had to take place for her to receive it were rough. The 2020 season consisted of so many new variables that Wandt said she had never seen before. Getting through such a tough year was one of the most impactful moments of her time at Baylor.
“I think last year with COVID, it was bad in many aspects, and it was really unknown,” Wandt said. “But I think that I had learned the most from that year and have been able to take those lessons into this year.”
Amidst all the glory and awards that Wandt has received, her mentality and gratitude sticks with the team. She prides herself on defense and has a strong team-minded attitude. Wandt said the recognition is just a bonus, as her main goal is to help her team out in any way she can.
“Honestly, when I step on the field, I just want to help my team win,” Wandt said. “Most of those records and everything that you talk about is because of the backlines that I’ve had throughout the years.”
Wandt has been a part of some teams that have gone all the way to the Elite 8, as well as some teams that didn’t meet expectations. However, Wandt said she wouldn’t change anything about her time at Baylor.
“I’m happy, but I don’t think I would change any of it because you learn so much and I feel like I am so prepared to be a person outside of soccer,” Wandt says. “I feel really prepared for life.”
After being in the program for this long, Wandt has embodied the sense of “Baylor family” both current and former athletes have talked about in the past. Over the years, Wandt said her relationships haven’t wavered.
“It really is a family environment and girls who have graduated, we all still have relationships and I can’t wait to have that with the current players here when I graduate,” Wandt said. “I know the girls will be in my corner every step of the way through life and everything.”
With a career full of accomplishments, Wandt has plans to continue playing the sport she loves after her time at Baylor ends. Wandt has a deep love for the game, and said she is nowhere near ready to leave a world filled with sports.
“After this year and after, if we have a long tournament run, my goal is to play pro for a couple years,” Wandt said. “Then, I’d love to go into coaching or something just in the sports field, I don’t want to leave it quite yet.”
The future seems bright for Wandt, as her successful career at Baylor is going to be finished at the end of this season. Baylor soccer has had the foundation of their defense centralized around Wandt since she’s been a part of the program. Wandt said she has had an amazing time here and wants to soak up every last second of it as she dives deeper into her final season.
“I’ve just had a phenomenal four years here and already going into this fifth year it’s been great,” Wandt said. “I’m just looking forward to the next couple months and trying to cherish every last moment of it.”