Joliet Junior College has not had a women’s soccer team since the 2019 collegiate season. That all changed this spring when Head Coach Henry Cheung was hired to lead the newly re-formed women’s soccer team. Starting off by recruiting various high school soccer athletes from the surrounding high schools, Cheung was able to bring in roughly 20 players to create the most skilled and complete roster that he could. The JJC’s Women’s Soccer Team has been working hard this season to win as much as possible while developing their team-bonding skills. Captains Payton Kjsellsvik and Monica Hernandez were voted on by the other members of their team, making the pair truly representative of the leadership of the team. Focused on building a team-based culture while maintaining a positive attitude, Cheung, Kjsellsvik and Hernanadez discussed the ambitions and lives of the team this year. “It feels good being a part of the first year back,” said Hernandez on her feelings as a captain on the returning team. She added that getting exposure to the team is another great aspect of being a leader. Kjsellsvik felt similarly, explaining that “it feels great to be a part of a brand new program,” and that she and her teammates “will be able to say years down the road that we started it back up.” Hernandez and Kjsellsvik have been playing soccer since a young age, and Cheung is also experienced in coaching the sport. “I have been coaching for 15 years,” Cheung said. “I started coaching clubs, high school and then college. I enjoy coaching. It’s my passion.” Regarding individual goals as leaders, Hernandez said that the most important thing about being a captain is “being a leader and keeping a positive attitude through even the hard times.” Kjsellsvik added that the team’s goals included “learning how to play together as a team” and that playing the year out and continuing to develop as a team is of utmost importance right now. As leaders, finding balance in life is difficult. “Being a student athlete is not easy because you have to juggle with school work and practice,” Cheung said, explaining that sometimes athletes may not get home until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. because of their sport. Kjsellsvik agreed. “It does at times get complicated,” Kjsellsvik said. “You wanna make sure that you’re giving your all to the team, but also, school comes first.” Hernandez echoed her thoughts. “It is difficult. You have to focus on your studies, but, as a captain, you have to be there for your team.” Through their combined experiences, both captains and their coach Cheung have received important pieces of advice. “Make sure that you’re always there for your teammates. They go through everything with you,” Kjsellsvik said. “Even if you win or lose, you’re still in it together at the end of the day.” Hernandez said the best piece of advice she received was, “Do things the right way. Even if you’re losing, keep doing it the right way.” Hernandez also explained why the sport excites her. “The adrenaline rush you get, the butterflies. It feels (good) winning with your team. And, even losing because you learn from your mistakes.” Cheung discussed the advice that he gives his players. “Three things I always tell my team: work hard, make good decisions on and off the field, and don’t forget to have fun.” Cheung said he is excited to see the progress the team will make over the season.
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