When a coach addresses a member of the team during practice and causes that player to go red in the face and shrug his or her shoulders, it means they messed up.
In the case of Jaci Jones, that could not be further from the truth.
Jones, a standout member of the Cowgirl soccer team from 2016-19, racked up both stats and accolades during her time playing midfielder for OSU, including being named the 2020 Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year.
“Jaci has been huge for us,” junior midfielder Grace Yochum said. “For the two years that I was with her, I mean, she is the ultimate leader. She was the heart and soul of this team and everybody when you saw us play you knew that.”
Considering how much she meant to the team, Carmichael and the Cowgirl coaching staff were elated when Jones agreed to come on for the 2020 season as an assistant coach.
Elation was also the feeling in the air when Carmichael called the whole team together during practice to inform the team about the newest step in Jones’ soccer career — an opportunity to play professionally.
“About two weeks ago we got a call from the Houston Dash, who she had gone on tryout with,” Carmichael said. “They are doing a fall series in the NWSL pro league. Some of their rostered players have opted out and some of them have gone overseas to play so they are filling the rosters. They called Jaci and asked if she’d like to sign an eight-week contract and go play.”
When the team learned of Jones’ opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of hers to play professional soccer, their hearty congratulations embarrassed Jones, to the point where she got red in the face.
“Jaci is extremely humble,” senior defender Hannah Webb said. “She’s not going to come out and tell us all about this awesome soccer opportunity.”
Her opportunity, to join the Houston Dash of the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League), is no small matter. Getting to play on a professional level was viewed as a fitting reward by the Cowgirls after they saw firsthand at OSU how hard Jones had work to craft her skill.
“The whole team is so proud of her, I mean, that is a Cowgirl alum going to represent us professionally,” Webb said, “She’s completely deserving and all of us are so excited for her.”