SoccerWire Q&A: Va. Rush U-16s’ Erica Jackson juggles soccer, cross country, AP academics
As a high school student taking challenging courses, free time can be minimal thanks to lengthy readings, time-consuming homework assignments and exam preparation. Mix in a sport, or even two, and everything is a degree harder – free time seems nonexistent, but focus and dedication is at an all-time high for the strong.
Erica Jackson of Virginia Rush’s Under-16 ECNL team is as busy as they come.
Aside from being a busy student with a 4.06 GPA in the Virginia Beach Math and Science Academy at Ocean Lakes High School, taking numerous Advanced Placement and other tricky courses, she plays for Rush and runs for her high school year-round, with great success at both.
“Running has been extremely rewarding for me, but soccer is my passion, and running has helped me excel on the pitch with my speed and endurance,” Jackson said.
Jackson started playing soccer at the U-7 level and began to grow, playing more competitively at U-12. A speedy and fit defender with an ability to push the ball out of the back, Jackson’s multiple skills on the pitch have led to several awards.
When it comes to cross country, she has earned all-district honors three times, all-region honors twice and was on the state runner-up cross country team in 2011.
She has also earned district, regional and state honors in indoor track and was district champion in the 800 meter in 2013 in outdoor track.
She recently sat down with Soccerwire.com to talk about her soccer life.
Soccerwire.com What is your recruitment status?
Erica Jackson: I am currently not committed. As of now I am actively reaching out to colleges to find the best fit for me both academically and for soccer.
SW: How have you grown as a player over last year?
EJ: I grew up playing outside midfielder because of my speed. A little over a year ago I was moved to outside back because I could cover a lot of field space and get into our team’s attack. That was a big change for me, but then I was also put on the left side even though I’m right-footed, which really forced me to use my left foot and develop better left crosses. Most recently, I was given the opportunity to get some time playing in the center back position due to some injuries, and I have really learned a lot about becoming tactically more efficient and being a more vocal leader on the field.
I’ve taken what I learned at center back and found it to be very helpful in my outside position, particularly in one-on-one situations. I’m thankful that my coaches have given me the opportunities to move throughout the defensive line as it has really transformed me from a speedy outside midfielder into an attacking outside defender and been a major factor in my personal development.
SW: What is biggest lesson learned in ECNL play?
EJ: The biggest lesson is that you need to be ready to play your best game every week because the ECNL has a very competitive atmosphere. I am very fortunate to be given the opportunity to compete against some of the best teams and players in the nation.
SW: How has running for your high school helped you in soccer?
EJ: Running enables me to stay in optimal shape, which helps tremendously on the field. Through training, I am able to play the entire 90 minutes and therefore can contribute to my team as much as possible on the field. Additionally, I rarely have to focus on catching my breath in the middle of the game, which makes it much easier to stay mentally focused and keeps my technical abilities sharp on the field. As an outside back with lots of speed and endurance, I can add to my team’s attack frequently and still have no problem recovering to help my team defend as well.
SW: Where do you want to go to college?
EJ: I am not exactly set on one college and am still actively in the recruiting process, but of the schools I’ve visited, University of Delaware, Lehigh, William & Mary, James Madison University and East Carolina University are all high on my list.