IN EVERY STAGE OF HER PLAYING CAREER, JESSICA KVAM HAS LEARNED SOMETHING.
Whether that was playing in high school, at the University of Virginia, or in the USA Women's Soccer National Team program, Kvam took away some new wealth of knowledge.
"Whether that was overcoming injury, how to do that mentally and physically and still being a part of that team and influence that team," she said. "Also, having different roles depending on what stage of my career I was in. Whether it was being team captain, learning to be a leader and bringing everyone together, or trying to be a leader, if I'm not given that title."
Those life lessons that her own soccer career instilled in her, Kvam is now passing on to her players as the head coach at King's Ridge.
Kvam has been roaming the sideline for the Tigers for seven seasons and has built her program on unity.
"My motto is if we're connected off the field that will mirror on the field," she said.
The team this year has been led by junior goalkeeper Kate Ares, senior forward Sophia Gallo, and freshman Annika Smith.
"[Ares] is an awesome goalie for us and keeps us in games," Kvam said. "[Gallo] has always been a solid player for us and is kind of the glue to our team this year. [Smith] has brought so much energy, tenacity, and grit to our team. I'm excited to see that development over the next four years."
Outside of team unity and winning games, of course, Kvam – who learned plenty of life lessons in her playing career – is trying to pass those same ones on to her girls now.
"With team sports, like soccer, what you learn being on a team and not in an individual sport is how to work together and overcoming obstacles," she said. "That translates over to life."
The winner of the VYPE DFW 2021 Girls Soccer Goal Scorer of the Year Fan Poll was none other than Adamson High School's Samantha Rodriguez. This 2023 midfielder/forward for the Leopards has spent all season proving her value on the team as well as in Texas High School soccer. The soon-to-be junior racked up 33 goals on the season for Adamson while helping lead the Lady Leopards to an 11-5 district record.
VYPE DFW caught up with the super sophomore Tuesday morning in an interview. After not being able to play last season per the contract with her club team, Rodriguez continued to run and work out on a regular basis in order to get as many touches on the ball that she could. "I did not want to fall behind, so I would put in hours of work a day to make sure I was getting better and not just staying at the same level," said Rodriguez.
Photo provided by Samantha Rodriguez
The proof is in the stats for Rodriguez showing that she- in fact- did not stay at the same level. Although she put in a lot of hard work in her own time, she credits a lot of her success to being able to rely on her teammates. "The secret to my success was just having fun and being able to count on my teammates as well as have them count on me. Also having faith in myself to be able to score and take on players." The secret behind her success this season can also be directly translated into the team's success as a whole. "My team's success came from working together to win games, have fun, and make it to the playoffs," said Rodriguez continuing on the theme of the reliability the team had amongst each other. "These girls gave it their all every game and it paid off. We made history. Big or small, it is still history."
The biggest goal Rodriguez remains proud of this season is the fact that she scored 18 goals in two games. "We [the team] all worked together for me to be able to achieve that." Although the extremely skilled athlete is not committed to any college teams yet, she has her eye on the future and plans to look into colleges soon. She dreams of a west-coast school with her dream school being UCLA; though she doesn't rule out and colleges that would also accept her into their soccer "family". Her hope for the future is to major in any field of science where she would like to eventually become a patent lawyer.
Photo provided by Samantha Rodriguez
Who is your favorite professional sports team?
"My favorite professional soccer teams have always been USA and Brazil. They are my favorite teams to watch and I love their styles of play."
Who do you look up to as an athlete?
"I look up to Julie Ertz, I would love to meet her. She is one of the best to ever play in my eyes. Also Marta and Neymar have always been my favorites to watch on the field."
If you could go to dinner with one person (dead or alive) who would it be? What would you want to talk to them about?
"It would be my uncle Joey. I would just like to say goodbye and talk to him about how much everyone misses him. He made a huge impact on my family and everyone's lives he was in; being able to thank him for that would be the best."
Samantha Rodriguez won the fan poll after garnering 34.68% of the fan votes. She was followed closely by Celina's Lexi Tuite and Sunset's Jazelle Alvarado.
Congratulations to all nominees on a successful season.
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