PRINCETON — The consummate team player is perhaps the best way to describe this year’s BCR Girls Soccer Player of the Year, Jenna Grimmer from the Princeton Tigresses.
Though she may not have led the team in goals, Grimmer’s value to the team both for what she does with the ball and her leadership both on and off the field made her a strong choice as player of the year.
Head coach Ed Young describes Grimmer as, “confident in her ability to provide balls that make her team better.”
He said this was perhaps most evidence in their two matches against Hinckley-Big Rock when she, “single handily controlled the flow of attack and defense.”
Grimmer says her leadership has been inspired by the girls who were upperclassmen when she was first coming up, including Keyanna Altizer, Kim Schlesinger and Ellie Bonucci. But the player who most influenced her was Kelly Schmidt, the 2014 BCR Player of the Year.
“She was a great leader and an encouraging leader, even from goal,” Grimmer said of the former PHS goalie.
Grimmer can’t even remember a time when she didn’t play soccer.
“There is a picture of me at home when I was about 2 years old with a soccer ball at my feet,” she said. “I started playing PYSL as soon as I was old enough and have been playing ever since.”
Many players move to different positions during their careers, but Grimmer began as an outside midfielder her freshman year and finished as an outside midfielder as a senior.
A very strong leg and good speed made her ideal for that position.
“I love crossing,” she said. “It was Kelly (Schmidt) who taught me to cross. From a keeper standpoint, crossing from the corner is hard to defend. She is the one who introduced me to crossing.”
When asked whether she preferred scoring goals or giving assists, Grimmer did not even hesitate before saying, “Definitely assists! I love assisting. I’m not really a scorer. Once in awhile I cross it in and ‘accidentally’ score.”
Her 24 career assists were the the most for the class of 2017 at PHS.
A crossing pass assist in the midst of action is Grimmer’s favorite thing to do on the soccer field.
Though Young would agree that her crossing passes are meticulous, he also wants to credit her overall game.
“Jenna can challenge every opponent with dribble, pass, crossing and shooting,” he said. “She is very determined – a focused competitor who desired to excel.”
A great overall athlete, Grimmer was actually considered going out for track for something new this year. But it was her love for the game, her love for her teammates and the Grimmer family bonding that kept her going.
“My dad is in love with soccer,” Grimmer said. “In a way, I played for him, and I played for my mom. On the car ride home, it’s always fun to rehash the game. My dad, he loves it. He’s like a die-hard soccer dad.“
She said that at first, her dad did not know much of anything and that he used to just yell on the sidelines.
“He has definitely learned, though. He knows his stuff. He’s my biggest fan,” she said.
A highlight for her was the opportunity to set up a goal for her little sister, sophomore defender Kenley.
“In one of the last home games, I think it was against Hinckley, she came up and I dropped it back to her, and she made a goal. I got to assist her. It was one of the coolest moments for me,” Grimmer said. “She doesn’t usually score since she plays defense. Just seeing her face, it was so cute. I was literally right next to her, so I got to see it all.”
Grimmer said she and teammate Sarah Murray were commiserating about not having earned a title in any sport during their high school career. She said the most emotional game of her career was the Tigresses’ regional loss against Stillman.
“I think if we had played better in the regular season game against Stillman, that would have been different,” she said. “We did not come to play that day and let one get away we could have won. I think if we had won that one, the regional final game against them would have been totally different.
While she may play club or intramurals at Iowa State University, her days of highly competitive soccer have come to an end. She said the leadership she has have gained from soccer and all the sports and activities she was involved will be invaluable.
“I’ve thought about coaching [in the future],” Grimmer said. “I think developing character on the team is the most important thing for a coach. It’s such a team sport that a few bad apples can mess things up.”
It is precisely Grimmer’s character that earned her the player of the year this year. A very competitive young woman, she understands how to battle, but leave it on the field. She has learned to both win well and lose well.
“Jenna was a great example of how to compete,” Young said. “She led by example.”
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