Forward Savannah Jordan had just two training camps worth of National Team experience prior to her freshman year at the University of Florida, one with the U.S. Under-14s and one with the U-17s. In a perfect example of how you have to be ready when the opportunity calls, Jordan scored 22 goals as a freshman at Florida, was named an All-American and the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year and now finds herself in the Cayman Islands getting ready to help the young Americans in their quest for a U-20 Women’s World Cup berth. The Georgia product, by way of Mississippi, chats with ussoccer.com on her whirlwind past few months, why you probably don’t want to grapple with her and the meaning of “The Dash” tattoo on the back of her neck.
ussoccer.com: You attended the U.S. Under-14 I.D. Camp and then were invited to one Under-17 Women’s National Team camp in December of 2011. But since
then, you’ve scored 22 goals in college, got called into a U-18 camp during the college season, then two U-20 camps and here you are on the team for
CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifying. How has the past few months been for you soccer-wise?
Savannah Jordan: “Truthfully, it’s all been new to me. I haven’t been in all the cycles like a lot of these players, but I’ve loved the experience so far and I really enjoy playing with all these players. I’ve always wanted to be with the National Team and part of this group, so the best way to sum it up is just excitement. It’s an honor to be here, and from just being in the last two camps, I feel like we are starting a journey to something big. I’m excited to start an adventure with these girls and we have a lot to look forward to, beginning with qualifying this month.”
ussoccer.com: What have been your impressions of your teammates on and off the field?
SJ: “Off the field, they are a lot of fun. On the field, we can be serious and focused, but that’s the environment I want to be in. I’ve gotten to know them over the past few months and they’re great girls and great players. It’s cool getting to play against players that you hear about and play against in college, but the best thing is that you don’t have to play against them anymore. They are right there next to you.”
ussoccer.com: You are from Fayetteville, Ga., the same hometown as U.S. Women’s National Team defender Kelley O’Hara, but your name is Savannah, a
different city in Georgia. Please explain.
SJ: “Well, I’m originally from Mississippi, so my name has nothing to do with me living in Georgia, although everyone always thinks that. It’s as simple as my parents just really liking the name. I moved to Brooks, Ga., when I was 4, but for my dad’s job, we moved back Mississippi two years later. Then a year later, we moved back to the same house we used to live in. I’ve been in Georgia ever since, so I guess my name was just fate.”
ussoccer.com: You live in Georgia and play college soccer in Florida, so you should be used to the heat in the Cayman Islands.
SJ: “It’s a very similar climate. I was just lying out in the sun two weeks into December in Gainesville, so I’m definitely a warm-weather girl. I love playing in the heat. When it came to committing to a college, I knew I wasn’t going to go anywhere cold so I’ll be right at home here in the Caymans. So far, it hasn’t been too hot though, and we are playing all our group games at 7:30 p.m., so it will just be humid and comfortable.”
ussoccer.com: You had quite a freshman year at Florida. What do you think were some of the key factors in your success during your first year of
SJ: “I graduate early and enrolled in school in January, so I was pretty acclimated to college life and had the experience of going through spring practice. The coaches also helped me out a lot. They were really supportive. Freshman year is always tough for everyone, but the players and staff were really welcoming and it made things a lot easier.”
ussoccer.com: You earned your black belt in Taekwondo when you were only 11 years old. Do you feel martial arts had a positive impact on your soccer?
SJ: “It definitely helped me establish discipline. I learned literally all of my discipline and focus from my training. I also learned aggression, which I guess can be a bad thing at times, but it’s served me well on the soccer field. It also helped me just being tough and physical. I’m not scared of anything really, and I think that’s from fighting guys all the time. It’s rare that girls between ages 6 and 12 are going to be sparring with guys. I was the only girl in my studio, so I didn’t have an option. I had to fight guys. My style of play on the field came from that. I’m not afraid to get hit or to put my body on the line to score a goal.”
ussoccer.com: You have three tattoos – one of the back of your neck that says “The Dash,” some Sanskrit writing on your left wrist and a cross on your
right wrist. Can you share the significance of your ink?
SJ: “The Sanskrit one I got first. It says “Strength Through Adversity,” and I got it because I know that through life and soccer you are going to face a lot of adversity, and the tattoo is a constant reminder to stray strong and not let anything or anyone make you waver. “The Dash” is my most recent, and it’s a title of a poem that my mom showed me that talks about how on your tombstone, there’s all the date you are born – dash – the date you died, but the most important aspect to that is the “The Dash,” because that’s the life you lived. And the cross is because I’m a religious person and I try to stay on a straight path as much as possible.”
ussoccer.com: Do you have a major yet?
SJ: “I have planned major. As of now, I want to go into the nursing program and then go to Physicians Assistant School. I never know where soccer will take me, but that’s the plan as of now and I’m on that path at school. “
ussoccer.com: What qualities do you like about other forwards on the roster?
SJ: “They are just great to play with. They are aware of where you are at all times. They all want to score goals and we have similar mindsets, but unique skill sets. Some of us do other things better than others, but everyone is super-talented and I think we complement each other well. We work off each other and we don’t care who scores. We want what’s best for the team and each other and we want to help make this a winning team. I know all of us will do whatever it takes toward that goal.”
ussoccer.com: What are your goals for this qualifying tournament?
SJ: “First and foremost, just take it game-by-game and win each one. Of course, the big picture is to qualify for the World Cup and win the tournament. My personal goal is to contribute however I can, whether that’s scoring goals, assisting goals or supporting from the bench. We all realize what a special opportunity this is and what a special time this is in our lives, and it’s even clearer now that we’re at the qualifying tournament. We want to squeeze as much out of these experiences as we can.”
ussoccer.com: You have yet to play in a full international match with the U-20s. Do you have any idea who you will feel hearing your National Anthem
before the first game?
SJ: “Pretty nervous I would say, but feeling honored is the biggest thing. I guess it will really hit me then when I’m in the setting and environment. I know for a moment I’ll stop and think, ‘Wow, this is a pretty big deal,’ but when the whistle blows we’re playing soccer and that’s something we’ve done for most of our lives. I’m really confident this team can do some great things.”