After being named to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Freshman Team last season, Sophomore defender Jenna Ross returns this season — at a new position.
Ross, 19, she said she started playing soccer when she was four years old, playing among boys until she was 10. Then, she switched and went to an all-girls club. A native of northwestern suburb Crystal Lake, Ross said she played for both her club team and her high school team at Crystal Lake South High School until she came to Loyola.
Ross, an advertising and public relations major, said she aspires to go into event planning of some sort after graduation. She said balancing her soccer schedule and studies is more manageable this year than it was during her first year.
“It’s a lot easier because last year I came in as a nursing major and I realized it just wasn’t for me, so now it’s actually a lot easier this semester for me than it was last year,” Ross said.
Similar to her major change, she changed positions on the field. Head coach Barry Bimbi said he intended for Ross to play defender coming in as a first-year, but moved her to right midfielder. This year Ross is moved back to playing right defender.
“Last year was her first time really playing in the midfield and did really well at it,” Bimbi said. “We have the flexibility to move her back this year [and] it’s worked out pretty well so far.”
Ross said she enjoyed the change in positions last year. According to Junior midfielder Aleksa Tataryn, it’s where she got most of her assists from.
“I came in as a defender. It was nice to play more of an offensive role than a defensive role,” Ross said. “But as long as I’m on the field, I don’t care what position I’m in.”
Last season, Ross said she sprained her ankle while playing. However, that didn’t stop her from performing and leading the team with eight assists. Ross said her excitement to play without the injury has motivated her to make new goals, this including topping off her accomplishments in assists as a first-year.
“Getting started with conference this week, I’m excited to hopefully be able to play more in conference play,” Ross said. “Last year I had eight assists, so hopefully I can live up to that.”
Aleksa Tataryn is Ross’ roommate. Tataryn said Ross is an influential part of the team because of her leadership and her people skills are what make her stand out among the rest.
“She’s really loud on the team, probably the loudest person. Even as a sophomore, she’s very influential on the field,” Tataryn said. “She’s very lively, even at practice, she makes practices so much fun.”
Ross said she’s been working really well with the team this year and the new players. Ross said the new energy on the team makes practices fun and everyone is easy to work with.
“It’s very nice to have a new group that’s very outgoing and energetic,” Ross said. “We’re all energetic, but it’s nice that they all fit right in.”
Bimbi said Ross’ leadership and boldness are her biggest attributes to the team.
“If we know we’re going to have a hard training session, I’ll prep her,” Bimbi said. “We tell her we need her and she just says okay, whatever we need.”
Bimbi said her competitiveness and energy help the team in practices, and she’s one of the most influential leaders among the group.
“We had the Marines come in one day for one of our practices. It was one of her most exciting days at practice [and] she was a bright star in that environment,” Bimbi said. “She gets the girls pumped up. She gets people to gravitate towards her.”
Ross and the Ramblers are scheduled to face off against Indiana State University Sept. 29 in Terre Haute, Indiana.