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Van Loo garners soccer honors
SAN DIEGO — Arlington native and 2010 Arlington High School graduate Jessica Van Loo is making the most of her time at San Diego’s Point Loma Nazarene University.
Van Loo always wanted play soccer at a Christian school in California, and a soccer scholarship to San Diego’s PLNU was just right.
“It’s a Christian school in San Diego,” Van Loo said. “I couldn’t say no.”
Camaraderie with her teammates and the experiences and memories that she’s been a part of made her choice the right one.
Van Loo played varsity soccer all four years at Arlington. She’s played basketball and participated in gymnastics and ballet, but soccer is her favorite sport.
“It’s more fun to play outdoor sports because it’s refreshing and I can enjoy the outdoors while I play,” Van Loo said. “Volleyball was never my sport as much because I couldn’t run around.”
She made the Golden State Area Conference all-conference team as PLNU’s left back defender. She had always played outside or center midfielder or forward, so it was funny when coach decided to put her on defense.
“I’ve always been defensive-minded,” Van Loo said. “I play the game I love, so I appreciate it at whatever position I play.”
Van Loo and her PLNU soccer team took third place in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Tournament in Decatur, Ala., during which Van Loo was also awarded the Brine Method Champions of Character scholarship. Van Loo was completely surprised to receive the award on Nov. 19 at the game against University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma that decided whether Point Loma would go to State.
Brine Method is designed to help athletes discover, promote and achieve greatness while developing skills and character values on and off the field. The NAIA, on behalf of Brine Method, will contribute a $1,000 scholarship to PLNU.
Each team in the NAIA nominates one of its players for the award every year.
Van Loo found out she’d won at a banquet in Alabama for the semifinals teams and she was surprised to receive the scholarship award. She thought her teammates were kidding when they told her she’d won, but they were serious.
“She’s a good student but also a good player,” PLNU women’s soccer head coach Tim Hall said. “She’s tenacious and she’s the real deal.”
Van Loo has switched her major to nursing, effective next year. She’ll complete her academics at PLNU in her fifth year and will apply to nursing program if she has the grades.
“This was definitely one of my favorite years playing soccer,” Van Loo said. “We went undefeated up until very last league game. We’re really defense-oriented. Our defenders and goalie called themselves ‘the Stone Wall’ after the team went on a mission trip to Brazil and ‘Stone Wall’ was part of a movie that they watched. They started calling themselves the Stone Wall and it stuck.”
Van Loo missed three games with injuries and sat to heal up in time for big league games.
“Every day I’d pray that I’d bring God the glory, and coaches could see that God got the glory through me,” Van Loo said. “I keep a good attitude and good spirit whether we lose or win.”
Van Loo’s faith has grown since started at Point Loma, even having grown up in a strong Christian home and attending a youth group in high school.
She became a lot more independent in her first two years of college. Personal strength helps her faith because she had always taken her parent’s faith, but now she’s had her own choice with which to push her faith in God to new levels. She said she’s proven herself responsible by doing things at school that aren’t required of her like being part of the gospel choir and a student ministry group that tutors kids once a week.
Van Loo said she’s tough on the field without being dirty.
“I don’t intentionally pull people down or take shots when refs aren’t looking,” Van Loo said. “I try to be encouraging and uplifting to my teammates.”
PLNU will face tougher competition like University of California Santa Barbara, against whom PLNU has taken on several scrimmages and has a potential budding rivalry, as they leave the NAIA for Division II. Fortunately, only two players will graduate this year. PLNU’s 2012 team will have four seniors and nine juniors if there are no transfers.
“I think we’ll do well next year, but it’ll be hard to lose seniors and captains. I think the core group of sophomores will really help because we’ve all learned to play together. Last year was rough because we came together from different teams and areas, but Coach Hall chooses wisely and picks people who fit well with our teams. I love my teammates and Coach knows how to make practices fun. He cares more about us as individuals and our faith.”