Senior defender Jami Hegg has been a consistent player for the past three years, and now leads by example with her composure, competitiveness and drive as one of two captains of the women’s soccer team this year. “When you’re playing soccer on the field, you want to have an older player to kind of set an example of what we want to play like in terms of assertiveness, drive on the field, willingness to play to ball, how to push forward into attack,” head coach Jael Hagerott said. “And Jami really exemplifies that for us.”
Hegg started playing multiple different sports when she was 6 years old, but fell in love with soccer. She played on various teams growing up, and then played for the school team at Mead High School in Spokane.
Whitworth soccer was interested in Hegg, both as a player and as a person, because she exemplifies qualities that Whitworth looks for in students and athletes.
“To play soccer in college was always a self goal, something that I always wanted to do,” Hegg said. “I would always write in my journals growing up and I remember looking back to those journals in elementary school, and one of my goals in life [that] I wrote was to play soccer in college.”
When Hegg was a freshman at Whitworth, she was quite shy, but always ready to play, Hegg said.
“When she came in as a young player, she was already a very good player, but...she didn’t necessarily believe in it,” Hagerott said. “There has been a big improvement in her confidence, her belief and her ability as a player, which made a huge impact in our program.”
Throughout her time playing for Whitworth, Hegg has taken initiative to strengthen her knowledge of the game.
“I like to watch professional soccer a lot, so I would watch what position I am playing at that time and I would watch that position, see what I need to do that they are doing, what they should improve on and try to apply that to what I need to improve on,” Hegg said.
Hegg is known by her teammates to be a very creative person and fun to be around.
“In the beginning of every year, we go bowling as a team [and] we split up into groups,” sophomore forward Tiara Pajimola said. “These past two years, I have been in Jami’s group when our first year, we were avatars and this year, we were Gatorade bottles.”
On the field, she is known to be tough and competitive, whereas off the field she is more shy and a little less outgoing, Hegg said.
“Jami is always trying her best and she expects other people to try their best too,” Amy Sterk, senior defender and fellow captain, said. “If we were playing tennis, for example, just for fun—even though it’s not her main sport—she will put all of her effort into it and try to win as much as she can.”
As captain, Hegg demonstrates her leadership skills both on and off the field.
“She gives a 110 percent every time she steps up on the field, whether it’s in a game or at practice,” freshman defender Hannah Langbehn said. “She makes you a better player. We are defenders together and she never let me slip in my part. She is always pushing me to be the best that I can to help me become a better player.”
Last year, Hagerott told some of the players to rest and watch one of the practices, rather than take part. However, Hegg did the opposite, said Pajimola.
“Jami would be juggling and sprinting across the field even though coach told her that she should be resting. She said ‘I got to do something,’” Pajimola said.
Hegg has no immediate plans to play competitive soccer after college; however, she has several other interests. When she went to Mexico to visit her sister before attending college, she wanted to communicate with the people there, which inspired her to major in Spanish. She will be studying abroad in a Spanish-speaking country this spring, but has not made her decision on a location.
Hegg’s passion for soccer has been a huge influence on her teammates, and her own inspiration is derived from self-motivation, Hegg said.
“What keeps me passionate when I play soccer is that I forget about everything. I forget about my problems and my stresses. It’s a big outlet for me,” Hegg said. “In soccer, I am literally thinking about what pass am I gonna make next, where is this ball going, so I am consumed by it and not thinking about anything that is bothering me.”
Jessica Razanadrakoto Staff Writer
Contact Jessica Razanadrakoto at email@example.com