By Alana Thoman
U Sports Athlete of the Month (September) - Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith was mere tenths of a second from her dream.
A former member of the Canadian national luge team, the Calgary Dinos striker had the opportunity of a lifetime: to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in a last-chance race-off against teammate Arianne Jones three years ago.
The heartbreaking loss would launch her soccer career.
The fourth-year Dinos veteran has been named the inaugural U Sports Female Athlete of the Month for September – the first time the honour has been awarded. Smith racked up eight goals and 16 points during the month to lead the nation in scoring.
“It’s a pretty crazy feeling because it is a new thing this year and I’m excited to be the first one to win it,” said Smith. “It’s a great recognition of the hard work me and my team have put in.”
Though she started player soccer at the age of six, luge played just as a significant role in Smith’s life growing up. Prior to joining the national team, the Calgary native was a member of the Canadian junior squad from 2008 to 2012, recording eight top 10 finishes on the World Cup circuit. But it wasn’t until she missed out on the Olympics that Smith decided to concentrate on soccer and a potential varsity career after being approached by Dinos head coach Troye Flannery.
Flannery, who has known Smith and her family for several years, says she was the first phone call he made to try and get her to commit when he took over the program in 2013.
Throughout her time as a Dino, Smith says Flannery has been one of her biggest mentors who have been there for her every step of the way, even as she competed in both luge and soccer while maintaining her academics until April of last year.
“Troye was a huge help when juggling all of the different things I had going on in my life,” said Smith. “He has pushed me to become a better soccer player and knows that I am competitive and composed enough to handle the pressure based on my previous experiences.”
Flannery adds Smith has always been a strong player but now she has more to give both physically and emotionally on the field and it shows in her consistency.
“She is a big part of our attacking scheme as she is athletic – she scores goals every time she is in possession and she is dynamic,” said Flannery. “She is physically so strong and powerful and it is hard for other players to contain her.”
The leadership hasn’t gone unnoticed around the team.
“She works so hard in the gym and on the pitch that young players aspire to be that athlete,” said Flannery. “She holds a high standard for herself and works hard to obtain it and I think that really rubs off on others.”
“She is one of those players that doesn’t stop and always wants more,” added Dinos co-captain Maddie Lee. “Time and time again she will come up big for us whenever she is needed the most.”