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She's No Plain Jane


If you were to choose the ideal vocation for the parents of an international caliber goalkeeper (besides an international caliber goalkeeper) we think fighter pilot might be it.

Bravery, leadership, great vision, quick reflexes, lightning fast decision-making and supreme fitness are qualities they could pass on to their kids.

Meet Jane Campbell, the daughter of two former Navy pilots and one of a talented crop of current U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team goalkeepers.

Her mother Crystal and father Mike Campbell met in Pensacola, Fla. where her father flew F-18s in the famed and elite Blue Angels. He also flew the A-6 Intruder and served four different tours landing jets on aircraft carriers.

Mom flew various fighter planes while logging most of her hours in the A4E Skyhawk, a single engine, single seat delta wing light bomber jet. Mom also flew commercial for Delta after getting out of the Navy.

Their 16-year-old daughter stands at 5-foot-9 (“and a half!” adds Jane) and is currently with her U-17 teammates at the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The goal: a ticket to the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan.

Campbell, who is training alongside the 6-foot Cassie Miller in Guatemala, knows that playing goalkeeper for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is a position that carries great prestige and a tradition of excellence. In fact, the winners of the Best Goalkeeper Award in the most recent FIFA Women’s World Cup and U-20 Women’s World Cup have been Americans in Hope Solo and Bianca Henninger, respectively. Back in 2008, Taylor Vancil backstopped the USA in New Zealand and won the award at the first FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, while Alyssa Naeher grabbed the honor at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Chile.

“I think it’s hard but at the same time challenging and exciting knowing that bar is set so high,” said Campbell of the U.S. goalkeepers that have preceded her. “Hope Solo is the best goalkeeper in the world right now and if I want to be like her I have to keep reaching my own smaller goals.”

Campbell, like millions of young girls, would love the opportunity to play in and win a U-17 Women’s World Cup and then one day get a chance to move onto the senior level. She also knows that first she has to make the roster for qualifying and then win a starting spot in order to help the USA earn a berth to the tournament in Eastern Europe.

She also knows that in order to do those things, there is one quality she needs to bring to the field every day: consistency.

“I want to always train hard and just be consistent from camp to camp,” said Campbell, who lives in Kennesaw, Ga., when she’s not attending Darlington School, a boarding school in Rome, Ga. “As we all get older, the players get better and the games get tougher and you have to improve just to keep up and make sure your game doesn’t drop. I don’t want my game to drop.”

For such a young player, Campbell already has a grasp on the most difficult part of putting in those consistent performances day in and day out.

“It’s a mental thing, you have to concentrate all the time and not get down on yourself when you have a bad game or training session,” said Campbell. “That happens to everyone. You just have to push through it and work on things you might not be as good as it. Working on your strengths gives you confidence, but improving your weaknesses gives you even more. Confidence is really important so you are in the right mental state coming into all the camps.”

For a high school student, the demands of national team competition can be daunting. Balancing school and soccer with a competitive arena that is light years ahead of most club and high school soccer environments can take its toll, but Campbell is already talking like a veteran.

“You have to know that your body is prepared for two-a-days for seven straight days,” said Campbell. “You have to know how to compete, and have that confidence that no one is going to take your spot. At the same time, you have to have confidence in your teammates and support them all the time. It takes a lot of mental focus for us young players but I think this team has that dimension.”

As a goalkeeper and a big personality, Campbell wants to be a leader on this U-17 team. She knows that being a leader is something that is earned, and she sees her role as equal parts motivator and unifier.

“I like to push people, but not in a mean way,” said Campbell. “I have a lot of friends on this team and I like to think I get along with everyone. It’s important to have good team chemistry so everyone can play their best and can support each other through mistakes. I’ll get on a player during games if they make a mistake, but that’s just holding them to a high standard that we all want to be at. I love being around everyone on the team, we’re all a family and connecting with everyone is a major part of being a leader. I think I’ve really tried to do that well.”

Campbell has been with a core group of these players since U.S. Under-14 National Team camp and is excited about what is to come even though she admits she probably does not know what to expect from the next few years. She does know that it will include having her two feet firmly on the ground, except when the ball is flying towards the net.

“I’m not afraid of heights or anything, it’s just I really don’t like all the flippy-flips and G-forces and everything that comes with flying a plane,” said Campbell, pretty much ending her career as a pilot right there. “I have huge respect for my parents and everyone in the military, but I want to represent my country on the soccer field.”

She’s well on her way. With the U.S. off to a good start in CONCACAF qualifying and the World Cup set for fall of 2012, there is still much work to do.

“Our goals as a team are the highest,” said Campbell. “We want to qualify for the World Cup and then be able to beat other top teams in the world in big games and win the World Cup. I think we all saw this summer from the Women’s World Cup just how much effort a team needs to put forth to have success at the highest levels and we are ready to do that.”

Sounds like a young lady ready for take-off.

ussoccer.com Note: This article was originally published in August of 2011 and updated during the 2012 U-17 CONCACAF Women's Championship in May 2012.
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