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Soccer turns popular at William Jessup

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Jamie Howard left Cal State Sacramento in 2005 with a degree and a year of athletic eligibility remaining, so she enrolled at William Jessup University in Rocklin and joined the women’s soccer program. Those were the days when the Warriors would take any player – or student - who happened to come along. “If we saw anyone wearing athletic shorts, we’d ask them if they wanted to play,” Howard recalled. “We were happy we had 11 players on the field.” Fortunately for Howard, that is no longer true. She has seen to it in four years as the women’s soccer coach. Take Tuesday’s practice, for example, as the Warriors prepared for Saturday’s match at Azusa Pacific in the first round of the NAIA championships. Howard invited two high school players to join the workout. The two will also attend a few classes and meet with instructors at Jessup before deciding whether they want to attend the university. Howard will also have to determine whether they can handle the competition. Howard has 24 players on her roster and turned a few away. Jessup has become a popular place at which to play. There is much more to being a student-athlete at Jessup than academics and sports. There is also the faith factor. “When I recruit a player, I want to see what her core values are,” said Howard, who came to Jessup to expand her religious knowledge and played soccer because she did not want to waste a year of eligibility. Howard no longer has to accept any player who stumbles across the university and decides to give soccer a try. She has landed transfers from other universities and junior colleges. The talent level has skyrocketed. With Jessup offering scholarships, Howard can go after high school players in need of financial assistance. “The program is starting to get some recognition, so I can be picky when I’m looking for players,” she said. “We want to compete nationally.” Howard found two players at Lincoln High – sophomore Chelsie Nakasone and freshman Perla Aguilar. Nakasone’s brother, Jordan, is a senior with the men’s soccer at Jessup. Aguilar attended Sierra College for two years, Howard said, but did not play soccer to save her eligibility until she joined the Warriors. Soccer is a family affair for Nakasone, who also has two brothers who played soccer this fall at Lincoln High. The same goes for Howard. One of her assistants also happens to be her father, Dan. A victory Saturday would send Jessup to Decatur, Ala., for the Sweet 16. The Warriors qualified for the national tournament by winning the California Pacific Conference with an 8-1-1 record.