Crystal Lake South senior Jess Schoenfeldt admits that she is a bundle of nerves before matches, but you wouldn't know it from watching her calmly control the midfield for the Gators.
A captain and four-year varsity player, Schoenfeldt helped lead the Gators to a 19-2-1 record this year as a senior, including a perfect Fox Valley Conference record. The Gators won the FVC outright for the second consecutive season and won a second straight Class 3A regional title.
After playing more of a defensive or two-way role in the past, Schoenfeldt was freed up to attack more this season. That resulted in her scoring a team-high 25 goals and assisting on 13 more.
For those accomplishments, Schoenfeldt is the 2017 Northwest Herald Girls Soccer Player of the Year, as selected by the sports staff with input from local coaches.
Recently, Schoenfeldt talked about nerves, lucky socks, Disney movies and more.
What helped you have such a strong senior season?
Schoenfeldt: I think just the girls we had on the team this year. The girls we brought in and the returners, as well, it was just a great mesh of talent and girls who could have fun and go out there and play for each other. I think it was a great season just because of them.
How do you think you’ve grown up or changed over four years of high school and soccer?
Schoenfeldt: I’ve definitely matured. And I think my ability to read the play and ability to play on the field has just gotten a lot better. I think when you play on varsity as a freshman it’s really intimidating, and I think growing up around such high-intensity competition has helped me grow as a player and mature a lot and gotten me to where I am now.
How would your teammates describe you?
Schoenfeldt: Oh gosh, I don’t know. I think they would say I have a lot of passion for the game, and I think they would say I do work hard. I’ve always tried to put myself out there and lead by example on the field. Sometimes it gets misread a little bit, but I don’t know, I think they would say I’m passionate about the game, and I have a lot of heart going into it.
Which one of your teammates made you laugh the most?
Schoenfeldt: There’s a lot of them. I think the girl that comes to mind is Jenna Ross. Just her attitude on the field, and whenever we’re at practice and the baseball team is there, too, and they’re playing their music through practice, she’s dancing, or she’ll crack jokes in the huddle before games to get us all loose and ready to go.
Who is your favorite soccer player to watch or model yourself after?
Schoenfeldt: Definitely Messi. He’s my favorite. No doubt. Best player in the world. I watch him all the time. I try to see if I can ever come close to him, but I don’t think I ever will because he’s amazing. But definitely someone I look up to.
I believe you told me before that you have lucky socks. Do you have other superstitions?
Schoenfeldt: Yeah, the lucky socks are a thing, but I do tape my left pinky finger. It’s like a North Carolina Tar Heel thing that I read about in a book. So I tape my left pinky finger, and that’s kind of my lucky tape.
What are your lucky socks? Are they a particular pair, and how did they become the lucky ones?
Schoenfeldt: They’re my Christmas socks, actually, so they have reindeers all over them and green and red and white. Last year I actually had Ninja Turtle socks, and those had holes in them, so I switched to Christmas socks during my club season in the fall, so ever since then that’s what it’s been.
You have the lucky socks. Are you picky about other parts of your uniform like your cleats?
Schoenfeldt: I definitely get a little bit picky when it comes to my hair. I always have to have a pink headband in, no matter what it is, all the time. It doesn’t really matter what color pink, though, but I usually like to have a brighter pink. My jersey, as far as that goes, it doesn’t matter to me. My cleats, they’re just on my feet. I’m not too picky about them.
What’s going through your mind when you’re in the huddle or standing on the field right before the whistle?
Schoenfeldt: Definitely a lot of nerves. I get very nervous before games and in the huddles and things like that. I think mostly I just get really excited, and I’m hyped to get out there and go and play and do my best.
What is your favorite pre- or post-game meal?
Schoenfeldt: Pre-game meal definitely fettuccine alfredo. That’s my go-to. My mom makes it every night before games. Then after games, it usually depends on how I’m feeling, but Chipotle is always a go-to.
What is your favorite movie or TV show?
Schoenfeldt: Favorite movie is probably “Miracle” or the Harry Potter series. I’m a big Harry Potter nerd. Favorite TV show is “Chicago Fire” or "Chicago PD,” but I also like “New Girl."
If you didn’t play soccer, what other sport do you think you could be good at?
Schoenfeldt: I’d definitely give gymnastics another shot. I did it when I was little, and I would love that, but I’m not sure if I could pull that off any more.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Schoenfeldt: Cookie dough, for sure.
When you think back on this year, what’s a moment or a memory that will stick with you?
Schoenfeldt: Probably when we won our regional title game. That was a big win for us, and I think that we all really came together and played with heart. It was a great feeling.
Who is someone in your life that you look up to or is an inspiration to you?
Schoenfeldt: My mom. I think about her all the time whenever I’m playing. But the other big influence in my life is probably my oma (grandma). She passed away two years ago, and every time I step on that field I play for her. She’s probably had the most influence on my life.
You’re going on to play in college. What do you see as the biggest challenges or areas you need to improve?
Schoenfeldt: There’s definitely always room for improvement. I think that probably my area I need the most work on is my finishing skills. I definitely need to work on placing shots better, and I think going into college I’m going to get a lot of help with that. I’m hoping to get a lot fitter and a lot more cut, and we’ll see how it goes.
If you’re in charge of the music before a game, what are you putting on?
Schoenfeldt: It would be a mix between rap, like hard rap, or I don’t know, I listen to Disney music a lot so anything from Disney movies. That’s my stuff right there. Probably a mix of that.
In that case I guess I’ve got to ask what’s your favorite Disney movie and song?
Schoenfeldt: Favorite Disney movie is tough because I love all of them. But I really love “Tangled.” That’s such a good movie. So, obviously, “I See the Light” in that movie is probably my favorite song.
What’s something that most people wouldn’t know about you?
Schoenfeldt: Most people don’t know that when I was little I was actually a competitive bowler. It sounds really weird, but I was, so there’s something.
What’s your best bowling score ever?
Schoenfeldt: I think it’s like a 264 I want to say.