Soccer Star To Play On College Level


If Jessica Coleman's aspirations unfold as she plans, her dedication to excellence in soccer could lead to a lucrative career as a dental hygienist.

The 18-year-old has accepted a soccer scholarship to Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC) and will enroll next year with a major in premedicine.

After two years at PVCC, the 2005 Payson High School graduate looks forward to transferring to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff to major in dental hygiene.

"They have a really good (dental hygiene) school there and that's what I'd like to do," she said. "But, I know it is tough to get in; they take only a certain amount of students and you have to have almost straight As."

Piling up good grades at PVCC shouldn't be a problem for Coleman. At Payson High School she maintained a near perfect grade point average while taking advanced placement classes, including calculus.

Coleman maintained her position on the honor roll while participating in soccer, softball and other school sports and activities.

"You just have to find the time to do all of them," she said. "I think I can do the same in college."

During her prep soccer career, Coleman earned three varsity letters playing for three coaches.

"Each one of them was different," she said. "We had to adjust to what they wanted."

Her best memories of the sport, she said, came from last season when the team earned a berth in the 4A state tournament. A first round 6-0 loss to Tucson Ironwood didn't dampen her enthusiasm for the sport.

"The excitement of making it to the tournament is something I'll always remember," she said.

That joy includes a dramatic 3-2 upset of Page in the opening round of the Grand Canyon Region tournament.

Because regulation time ended in a tie, the outcome had to be decided by a shoot out in which Coleman scored one of the winning goals.

The teen's fond memories of her final prep campaign also center on the camaraderie the five senior members developed.

"We started as freshmen and were together for four years," she said. "We even played AYSO (American Youth Soccer Association) together."

The other seniors included Lori Wing, Kelsea Palace, Katie Plumb and Mary James.

At the conclusion of the season, Coleman was voted to the GCR all-region second team, and Palace was chosen honorable mention.

As a junior, Coleman earned GCR all-region laurels.

This past season, her coach, Joe Schmidt also had Coleman as a student in his advanced-placement biology class.

"She is the cream of the crop," Schmidt said. "I nominated her for the AIA (Arizona Interscholastic Association) Sportsmanship award, which goes to kids who are both good in sports and in the classroom."

When on the playing field, Schmidt characterized her as "mentally very tough; she never gave up on any ball or any game."

During her high school career, Coleman played mostly as a midfielder or forward, but is uncertain what position she'll play at PVCC.

"I'll play wherever I can help the team," she said.

Preparations for her collegiate career are already under way.

Each weekday morning, Coleman and her younger sister Shanna, take to the Rumsey Park multipurpose field where both work out.

"I do a summer schedule the (PVCC) coaches gave me," she said. "I do sprints, distance (running) ball handing and weight training."

She hopes the strenuous workouts will provide the advantage she needs to earn a starting spot on the Puma team alongside former Lady Horn Amy Wilcox, who will be a sophomore at PVCC next year.

While Coleman will rely on soccer to pay for college, the teenager also excels as a softball player.

At the conclusion of the season, coaches selected her to the all-region first team as an infielder.

Her efforts also drew praise from Lady Horn coach Will Dunman.

"She has a great work ethic and a good attitude about academics and sports," he said.

In reflecting on her high school year, Coleman said her parents and AYSO soccer coach Grant Kepp played a huge role in her development.

"My parents (George and Lori) were always there to support me, and Grant helped all of us seniors so much," she said. "I'm really thankful for everything they did."

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