STANFORD, Calif. – Women’s soccer will be the first Stanford team to report for training in the 2013-14 academic year, arriving Tuesday with nine newcomers. The Cardinal will attempt to uphold tradition that includes five consecutive NCAA College Cup appearances and four consecutive perfect Pac-12 seasons.
Among the eight freshmen is Jane Campbell, a highly-regarded 5-foot-9 goalkeeper from Kennesaw, Ga. In January, Campbell, then 17, was the youngest goalkeeper ever called into a full U.S. women’s national team camp. She has starred at all levels within the U.S. youth system and seems to have unlimited potential.
Stanford’s goalkeeping position is undoubtedly the strongest in the country. Campbell will compete for playing time with senior Emily Oliver, a 2011 All-America and a three-time NCAA College Cup all-tournament selection, as well as fifth-year senior and two-sport athlete Aly Gleason, and sophomore Sarah Cox.
Campbell has spent the summer at Stanford, taking classes and getting acclimated. This week, she spoke with gostanford.com about her national-team experience and the Stanford goalkeeping competition.
Q: You have relatives who have gone to Stanford – your grandfather, great great grandfather, and great aunt and uncle. Besides family history, what brought you here?
A: I knew I wanted to go to a top program and be in a good place where I knew I would be successful. But before I came to visit, I was stubborn and wanted to stay close to home. My mom said, “You should at least go look at it and see what happens.” So, I came out, and it was beautiful. The weather is like it is today, the coaches (head coach Paul Ratcliffe, and assistants Jay Cooney and Nicole Van Dyke) were awesome. The facilities, the weather, the atmosphere of everyone striving to be excellent in academics and athletics. That was it.
Q: What was your first impression? Did they take you down Palm Drive?
A: Yes. Jay drove me down there a few times. They gave a whole campus tour. We actually went up Hoover Tower. Did all that.
Q: With Emily Oliver here, do you see that as a positive? Especially if your goal is to break into the starting lineup?
A: I’ve known Emily through the national team programs. I love her, she’s awesome. She’s a great goalkeeper, and a great person to be around. The fact that she’s a senior and I’m going to be a freshman is really helpful to me because I get to learn from her.
I’ll do whatever is best for the team. If that’s learning from Emily for a few weeks or months, or the whole year, then that’s what I’ll do. If it’s coming in to play, then I’ll do that.
Q: But you’re still aiming to start?
A: I would love to start. I always want to start. But, at the same time, if it’s best for the team that I don’t start, then I’ll happily do that.
Q: If you don’t start, would you be receptive to redshirting?
A: I don’t want to redshirt, because the opportunity may come sometime in the season for me to start. If I ended up redshirting, I wouldn’t have that opportunity. I’m not really sure. Jay hasn’t really talked to me much about it. He’s just said, ‘Let’s see how things play out.’ If I need to redshirt, I will, if that’s what they really want me to do. But I’d rather see how it plays out through the preseason.
Q: What do you expect will be the main difference between college soccer what you’ve experienced at the club or national-team levels?
A: There’s a huge difference between national and club, just the speed of play, the strength of every individual player. But from club to college, I would think that the biggest change would be the size of the girls. It’s Division I, it’s not high school. Everybody here is an amazing player. The skill level and the strength of everyone is obviously different. And the speed of play will be a lot faster. I’m 18 as a freshman, and the seniors are going to be three years older than me.
Q: What was it like to be 17 and in the national-team camp?
A: The camp was incredible. It was kind of a star-struck moment. It was unreal. With this team, you think about getting their autographs and pictures. But when you’re actually on the field, you realize they’re just the same goofy people, just 10-20 years older than you.
They’re phenomenal players. I definitely learned that I’ve got a lot of growing to do. There’s so much to learn in the next eight years in order to get better – the strength, the knowledge, the experience. That just comes with playing. It’s not really something you can learn or get overnight.
It was definitely a great learning experience and it helped open my eyes to see what actual camp would be like, and what the atmosphere’s like. It allowed me to see how they take care of their bodies, and what they do to rest or eat before a game.
Q: Did you have a humbling moment when you were there?
A: Usually, for the youth team camps, if you need equipment, they’ll send it to you. For goalkeepers, if you need gloves, they’ll give them to you at camp. I got called into the U20 camp before I found out about the full national team camp, so I ordered gloves for the 20s. But my order never got transferred, so I never got my gloves.
I needed a pair. So, I told my dad, “I need gloves. I don’t have any.” All my old pairs were gross and I couldn’t use them. So, we went to a sporting goods store and bought a $20 pair. They actually weren’t bad, but I went to camp with those. On the second or third day, Hope Solo saw them on the floor and she’s, like, “Are these your gloves?”
She goes, “These are garbage.”
And (goalkeepers coach) Paul Rogers, says, “This is crap. What are you wearing?” So, (goalkeeper) Jill (Loyden) gave me a pair of gloves so I could use them. I still have them. That was funny. They all made fun of me.
Q: Is there one thing you feel you need to work on to get to that level?
A: Paul Rogers mentioned my strength. Obviously, I was weaker because I was younger. But when he told me, I really started working on that. I lifted all the time. I ran a bunch.
I definitely think strength is a big thing just because their shots are so much faster. When you get stronger, it makes it easier all around, in catching or deflecting. Playing at that speed is going to help a lot. It’ll help my confidence, knowing I can make a save and it won’t be a big thing, rather than freaking out if Abby Wambach is shooting on me.
Q: Did you ever get in a situation where you were facing Abby, who has more international goals than anyone in the world, man or woman?
A: A few times. We had an intrasquad game and Abby was on the end of every cross. She’s already big (5-11), but when she’s coming down on you, it’s pretty intimidating. That was intense.
They did a finishing drill where they were, maybe, 10-12 yards away from us, just blasting these balls. And I was like, "How on earth am I supposed to save these?"
But it was fun. It was incredible to see how fast they can shoot it.
Q: Were those the hardest shots you’ve ever faced?
A: A few girls with the youth teams can really hit them, but Megan Rapinoe, for sure, had one of the hardest shots ever. She can just rip the ball. Jill’s broken her hand twice from shots. Paul can really hit it too.
Q: To come out here this summer, you decided to bypass a U.S. U20 camp in Portland in July.
A: I realized I should probably stay here and just work out and go to class. I probably could have gone, but I was happy I stayed. It was better for me. We’ve got another camp Aug. 4-12, which I have to say no to again, just because of preseason and Paul and Jay want me here. I still have class that week too and exams are the week after. So, Jay said study for exams and stay here.
Q: How do you think you’ve benefited from being here this summer?
A: I definitely would recommend it to any incoming freshman, whether you’re an athlete or not. If I was home, I probably would not be working out as intensely as I am here, with all the other girls, and lacrosse and field hockey. That really helped. And taking classes was nice too, just because I know what class is going to be like at Stanford.
Q: The first day of training is Wednesday. You’ll be tested on your fitness. Are ready for the Beep Test?
A: We ran it last week with (performance coach) Lesley (Moser). That was kind of a preview. Hopefully, by the preseason, with all the adrenaline, and with everyone actually being here, it’ll be good.
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics