Captains’ Corner: Jacqueline Simeone ’18

Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

Team: Women’s soccer

Hometown: Milton, Mass.

Residence: Hoxsey Street

Major: Economics

Snack bar order: Triple sweet potato fries

 

What was your childhood experience with sports?

I started playing youth town soccer around age 6. I went to a school called the British International School of Boston, and I played a lot of rounders, which is essentially British baseball, as well as rugby. When I was younger, it was basically rounders, rugby and soccer – kind of a random combination. [Laughs.] I come from a big golf family, so I played a lot of golf and tennis.

What eventually led you to focus on soccer, and when did you make that decision?

I was fortunate enough to be able to play with my sister, who is a few years older [than I am]. I played on her town travel team – that was huge in my transition to specializing in soccer, mainly because she and that group of girls really took me under their wings, and playing with older girls was essential to my early development as a player. I also enjoyed the whole team aspect of it. I’ve never seen myself as an individual athlete. I think I need a lot of interpersonal connections on the field, and that always played a huge role in games.

I know that you went to IMG Academy for high school. What was it like to be in such a sports-oriented environment?

It’s funny because people ask me about playing soccer during high school, but for me, soccer was high school. [Laughs.] It was a very demanding place. I would go to classes until noon, and from noon on, it was all about soccer. My electives were things like vision, nutrition, yoga and running. I would go to the trainers two hours before every single practice. We’d get to practice an hour early to work on running form and conditioning. I’d train for three hours and have a lift after practice, so it was definitely very soccer-focused. I had a great experience at IMG. It was fun and demanding, and I would never take it back. The repetition that I got at IMG through scrimmages has really helped me, and the focus on perfecting the first-touch ball has served me well in collegiate soccer, I think. Playing one- or two-touch is definitely my style of play, and that repetition really prepared me.

How did you decide to attend the College?

I had been in contact with [head coach Michelyne Pinard] since I was 14, and I came to visit then with my family. We fell in love with the campus, but Michelyne was also the only coach who commented on my progression as a soccer player. No other coach had ever noticed that, so it was a huge point on the soccer aspect. It’s always been academics before soccer, though. My mom says, “In student-athlete, student is before athlete for a reason.” I always told myself that I would go to the best school, and if soccer could complement that, I would do it. Williams seemed to be the best fit.

In an interview you did with Sports Information, you talked a bit about your grandfather’s love for the College. How has that shaped your experience here?

[Laughs.] He and my grandmother loved Williams so much. They had no affiliation other than just loving the Berkshires and the mountains here. He always wanted one of his children to come here, but no one could get in, quite frankly. He unfortunately passed away when I was much younger, but I remember taking the field for the first time, and I felt his presence. It’s something that really motivates me when I’m feeling in a rut at all. I think about him and my grandmother and making them proud.

Is there a story behind your uniform number, 27?

27 is my family’s lucky number. My brother and sister were born on July 27, my parents got married on June 27 and my first home growing up was 27 Long Meadow Road. Apart from all of those, it’s also found its way athletically into my family. My first year of high school, my brother and I were both just given 27 as jersey numbers. I played for the Massachusetts Olympic Development Team – it was an honor making that team – and I showed up to the first game, and they handed me 27. I love 27. [Laughs.]

What makes playing under Coach Pinard so special?

Michelyne is so invested in our personal development outside from soccer. Her goal is to shape us into the best women that she can. We talk about our six championships: You have the soccer ones, which are Little Threes, the NESCAC regular season, the NESCAC tournament, the regional championship and the national championship. Then you have the team championship, and that’s always been her main focus. She wants all 30 of us to love and respect each other, more than anything. That’s been really influential to me as a captain – just following Michelyne’s lead and piggy-backing on that mission.

What are some ways in which that mission has been fulfilled?

I’m always so stunned by how excited we are when everyone is able to get on the field and do what we love most. It’s quite amazing. We have a “player of the week” award that’s voted upon by all the team members each week. It doesn’t always have to do with games. It’s often whoever is pushing the hardest in practice and who we think deserves to be recognized. That’s another thing that reminds me of how proud we are of each other, and the moments when it’s announced are so special. I’m always awed by the length of the smiles on everyone’s faces. It’s amazing.

I know you have some pregame traditions. How do those energize the team?

[Laughs.] We have so many traditions – it’s weird to think about. It’s a lot of singing. We just like to sing a lot, I guess. The night before a game, right after our pregame practice, we circle up and do our chant. It’s the same as football’s; I think it’s called “Yard by Yard.” In the locker room before games, we sing “Shipping Up to Boston” [by the Dropkick Murphys] along with a special mashup of another song. We have a dance that we do on the field. We sing “Church” [by T-Pain] every time before taking the field. A lot of traditions.

What was it like to be a Junior Advisor (JA) last year?

Being a JA was such a blessing. I had a great experience, mainly from all the friendships that I fostered from it. I like to keep myself busy; I like always having something to do or a place to be. I don’t mind having people rely on me. It was definitely exhausting at times, but it taught me a lot about what I need. I realized that in previous years, I had been giving a lot more to others than to myself, so I realized that it’s okay to spend time taking care of myself. It’s okay to take some time away because it will make the time that I spend with everyone else better. It was definitely a balancing act last year.

How has your experience with Nothing But Cuties (NBC) been?

NBC is great. I can’t dance while I’m in season, but dancing with them is a whole other workout. Sometimes I’ll feel more exhausted in an NBC practice than I would be in a soccer practice. I remember my first performance with them, and afterward, I felt like I had when we won the national championship. It felt that great because NBC does a great job of fostering a community that cares for each other more than anything I’ve ever felt, much like what the soccer team has done.

How did you get involved with Reclaim Childhood, an organization that seeks to use sports to support women and girls in Jordan?

We had never had a soccer chapter before this year, so I met with Abby Conyers ’14, another No. 27, who is a leader for Reclaim. We spoke about starting a soccer chapter and a “goals for girls” campaign. Basically, you can either make an upfront donation or pledge a certain amount per goal. That makes scoring so much better and more exciting for our team, knowing that every time we score, we’re helping out this amazing organization.

You scored the game-winning goal on Oct. 14 against Wesleyan to win the Little Three championship. How did you feel in that moment?

I was in complete disbelief when that happened. That was so surreal, and I don’t even know how to describe it. I have somewhat episodic memory of it. I just remember looking around, seeing [tri-captain] Evan [Gancedo ’18] looking at me and smiling and Victoria [Laino ’21] smiling. I ran over to the bench, and we did some group hug type of thing. [Laughs.] It felt really great to clinch the Little Three championship. It was also a great look by [Natasha Albaneze ’18], who has been so selfless this year.

Your class won the NCAA title your sophomore year, and you are statistically one of the most successful in school history. What has it been like to play with that group?

We have three captains, but we’re really leading as a senior class. All decisions are made with all six of the seniors, and we meet almost weekly to discuss things. Having this leadership role and that responsibility has been really rewarding. We pay a huge tribute as well to the other classes, who have really gotten on board with our mission this season. Without their buying into this vision, it wouldn’t look like what it does. As a team, we never really speak about our success. We understand that we have been successful, but each season is a new season and each game is a new game. We’re just playing soccer, though, and we’re doing what we love. And we’re loving it together. Sometimes Michelyne needs to remind us of our championships because we’re so focused on the game and looking at it as just that. Playing the best soccer that we can is always our focus, and that’s what we’re concerned with. We’re very in the moment, and she’ll always tell us the things we’ve done. It’s always a moment that we take and just say, “Oh, you’re right. We did do that.” Our team does a really good job getting excited about the little things. We’re always yelling and very overtly passionate about each other’s successes. When these bigger championships do happen, it’s pretty great.

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