JCJC soccer All-American Bridget Dennis looks forward to playing for Southern Miss
Written By: Shawn Wansley
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date Submitted: 2011-04-02 09:01:29
By Shawn Wansley
JCJC Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – Bridget Dennis has been a standout on the soccer field for her entire career.
From youth soccer to West Jones High School to Jones County Junior College, Dennis has been at the forefront in leading her team.
Now, the JCJC sophomore will take her talents to the University of Southern Mississippi.
“I am ready to go and ready to get there,” Dennis said of playing for the Lady Golden Eagles. “It’s a Division I program and it’s just a higher level of soccer. It’s a great school to get an education and I am going to major in Biology Education.”
Dennis, who served as a team captain along with teammate Dana Ivey, was a key figure for the best season in the history of JCJC women’s soccer this past fall.
She had seven goals, five assists and scored 19 points to help head coach Dolores Deasley’s Lady Bobcats to its first-ever MACJC and Region 23 championships and to a 15-3-1 record.
For her efforts, she was selected as an NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American as a midfielder and as an All-Region 23 player.
“I was completely shocked,” she said of being recognized by the NJCAA. “I did not even think I was going to be nominated for All-American. I am the only girl from Mississippi to be nominated, so it is a big honor.”
Dennis said she has experienced two rewarding years at JCJC. The Lady Bobcats were 11-4 in 2009 when she was a freshman before breaking through last year.
“It’s been really good at Jones,” she said. “Last year, we started off kind of rough, but we set our goals higher for this year and we finally accomplished them. We wanted to win state last year, but we came up on the short end of the stick.
“But we pushed ourselves past our limits this year at every practice. It was great to win state and when we got to regionals against Meridian, we really wanted to win. They were talking down on us and we wanted to prove them wrong.”
The Lady Bobcats won the state championship on their own field, defeating Hinds Community College, 1-0 in overtime, on Oct. 24. They followed that up with a 1-0 win over Meridian Community College at Hinds on Oct. 29 for the Region 23 crown.
The regional championship earned them a trip to Tyler, Texas, to take on the nation’s No. 1 team, the then-undefeated Tyler Junior College Lady Apaches on Nov. 6.
The Lady Bobcats fought hard, but fell 4-1 to Tyler.
“When we won regionals, we were so happy to go to Texas,” said Dennis. “But we were really nervous out there. They were a really good team. It’s a completely different ballgame compared to what we see around here. They were very organized.
“I was not expecting them to be as good, but they were No. 1. It was a good experience.”
The loss signaled the end of Dennis’ junior college career. But she said the experience at Jones from a soccer standpoint has been excellent.
“It’s been good to meet people from different parts of the state and to meet people from different countries,” she said. “I’ve met so many international players. I have learned a lot from my teammates and my coaches. It has prepared me for the next step.”
The ‘next step’ will be playing for head coach Scott Ebke’s Lady Golden Eagles in Conference USA. Dennis credits a JCJC women’s soccer camp last summer with helping Southern Miss notice her.
“They did not really know about me until this past summer,” she said. “We had a camp here and I helped out and their assistant coach (Jennie Altherr) was here and saw me play. Coach D-Lo got me in with her and she asked me if I wanted to come to her camp.
“I told her, ‘Of course!’ because it was kind of like a tryout for me. I played for three nights and we scrimmaged for two hours. Fortunately, they loved me and they wanted me to play for them. They wished they had found me earlier.”
Dennis said she wants to be a teacher and a coach after graduating from Southern Miss. She believes the coursework at JCJC has prepared for the senior college level.
“Jones has been really good, from the transition from high school to college and now to senior college,” she said. “I think Jones has prepared me academically for Southern Miss. I am really good in biology and I want to be a coach someday. I would love to coach high school soccer and science is my thing.
“The science classes at Jones have really challenged me.”
Dennis credited Deasley’s practice sessions with helping her and the team enjoy success.
“She pushed us really hard,” Dennis said of her head coach. “Now, when I was doing it, I really did not want to do it. But I am so glad we did it because it really helped me grow as a soccer player. I have matured more as a soccer player and Coach D-Lo has really helped me prepare to go to Southern Miss.”
Dennis is unsure about what position she will be playing for the Lady Eagles. But she will be prepared for anything.
“They have a fitness test you have to go through before the season starts and if you pass, you get to play,” she said. “If you don’t, you get put on probation. So, I need to be ready for that first. They are actually thinking about putting me at right-back or outside mid, but it just depends on what happens.
“It’s going to be about who works the hardest and where they need me. A lot of factors will come into play.”
But when it comes to working hard and being prepared, Bridget Dennis will have the edge on just about anyone.