Sports

Soccer Superfans

Photo by Jon Rou

Jo Blankenship ’16, midfielder and co-captain of the LMU women’s soccer team, began playing at the age of 4. Her idol was Mia Hamm, star of the U.S. national team. Blankenship’s senior year has capped a stellar career: First Team All-WCC; second in total points in the WCC; led LMU to two NCAA tournament wins and the Sweet 16; and set the LMU career assists record. Blankenship has led soccer camps for young players for the past three summers. We talked with her about girls’ and women’s soccer in the United States. She was interviewed by Editor Joseph Wakelee-Lynch.

 

Were you an active kid?
I was always pretty active. I broke my crib. I was a nightmare, apparently.

Did you have role models?
No women in my family played soccer. I ended up being someone younger kids looked up to. Before high school, my neighbor, Natalie, started playing soccer because I did. She just committed to the University of Miami. More women in my generation play now, and so there are more young kids who look up to us in ways that I didn’t have.

Has the game taught you things that are useful off the field?
Soccer is a huge part of my life and has shaped me as a person. You have to work hard if you want to get to a high level. I stay after a game at least once a week to do extra shooting. If I’m staying an extra hour in the library studying, that’s just what I have to do. Not doing that isn’t an option.

Young girls in soccer leagues in LMU’s neighborhood know and admire you. How do you feel about that?
I think it’s awesome. An enormous number of kids who had been to the LMU Magazine photo shoot came to the next game, and they all wanted autographs. I think I signed autographs for 25 minutes.

Is it important that they are able to see college games?
It gets the idea of college soccer in their head. Seeing the games isn’t an opportunity that a lot of kids have. I never went to a women’s college game until I was looking at colleges. Hopefully, that’s something that they’re aspiring to reach.

What is the impact of winning the world cup on women’s and girl’s soccer?
I hope the kids who want to be like the U.S. team members are going to work harder. It’s going to be a constant project to try to make women’s athletics well-known. The World Cup is a huge step in that.

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