Rolfs plans to lead by example this coming fall season
April 19, 2012
By Matt Magill
UT Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - You might not think a goalkeeper with a quiet disposition would make an ideal team leader.
Just don't say that to UT's Jessica Rolfs.
The Normal, Ill., native, who's set for her junior season when the 2012 soccer campaign kicks off in August, takes pride in her abilities to promote team unity and a sense of purpose.
"I'm more of a lead by example leader," Rolfs said. "My voice isn't that loud and not a lot of people can hear me, but I try to be really focused when we go with the field players. If someone isn't focused and they're walking by me then maybe I'll go, `Come on. Let's get focused and get through practice.' The defenders can hear me and maybe one of the midfielders, but I can't yell up at the forwards. I just have to move the message up the field."
Rolfs and her teammates have nothing but positives to say about new head coach Brian Pensky and his staff. Pensky came to UT in January after six successful years at Maryland.
"I like how it's a lot more relaxed," Rolfs said. "We're focused on winning and getting better. A lot of the times, the coaches will laugh and encourage and it lightens the mood. The goalkeepers work with Joe Kirt and he's always in a good mood. He just seems to enjoy practice."
Rolfs understands that there is a new opportunity for a starter's role with the arrival of the new staff, but still maintains a collegial atmosphere with her friends and counterparts.
"When the goalies are on the field, we don't talk that much during practice," Rolfs said. "Off the field though, they're my good friends. When we're practicing, I'll look at them and think, `Oh, that was a good save,' or `she should have taken another step.' It's taking what they're doing and making yourself better. It isn't, `I want to be better than her.'"
There aren't many sports where a player can be 50 yards away from her nearest teammate during the play, but there aren't many positions in sports more important than the goalie. One goal is often the tipping point in matches and Rolfs knows her focus is vital.
"I feel like everyone daydreams at times, but I try not to," Rolfs said. "The game's only 45 minutes at a time. It's only going to be two hours of your day. Sometimes my mind wanders off, but most of the time I'm focused on the game. There's always something going on."
Rolfs' plans for the future include a possible return near her home in Illinois. She is studying logistics with a concentration in statistics.
"I'm really looking for a job back in Chicago or Milwaukee and work for a big firm," Rolfs said. "I don't want to work in a small town or anything. I want to help a company with their supply chain. I'm just now getting into the classes, but hopefully I'll be entering data and figuring out programs in the computer."
The Rolfs File:
-Class: Rising RS Junior
-Hometown: Normal, Ill.
-Hobbies: Reading and Watching Movies