By John Philip Wyllie
Despite the fact that the high school soccer season is just beginning league play, Sweetwater High School’s Jenny Jimenez has already scored an amazing 24 goals. That makes her the second most prolific goal scorer in the entire county. Not bad considering that Jimenez is still attending Granger Junior High as the lone ninth grader on the Red Devils rapidly improving 8-4-1 team.
“Jenny just has it,” says her coach, Roberto Bonilla. “She is hard working, dedicated and knows how to score goals. (Ironically) she is currently being used as a defender on the U.S. Olympic Development Team. She is not the first Jimenez to don the Sweet-water red and gray.
“My whole family loves soccer and my twin sisters played here a few years ago. I have been playing since I was four,” Jimenez said. She acknowledges their contribution toward her development. They still turn up frequently at her games to lend support. Having always played with older kids makes it easier for Jimenez to start as a freshman and play against girls that are sometimes three years older. She doesn’t feel the least bit intimidated.
Jimenez downplays her scoring ability and credits most of her production to the players around her.
“It takes the whole team to get it to me through passing. And my forwards, (Yesenia Hernandez, Donna Ortiz, Ivette Veloria and Jessie Ramos) provide a lot of help. They get me the ball wherever I am. I move around a lot to get the ball and I can shoot with either foot so that gives me an advantage.”
Senior team co-captains Mayra Valencia, Karina Rios and Fabiola Perez play a big part as well. Bonilla singled out Valencia as being particularly outstanding.
“Mayra is the heart and soul of this team. She puts her body out on the field every game and for the past four years she has played whether she was hurting or not. The other kids get inspired just by watching her play. (Defender) Janette Quinones is another one that motivates the team with her play. I ask them to give me their all and they give it to me every game,” Bonilla added.
Once a doormat in Mesa League soccer Sweetwater is off to its best start in school history. The goal now is to top its all-time season record of 13-6-3.
As important as soccer is to the high scoring Jimenez, it is not the only thing motivating her. College is still three years away, but she has already begun to think about it.
“I am in a program called AVID right now and they are teaching us about different colleges. I am planning to go to one and hopefully play there.”
If Jimenez can maintain her torrid goal-scoring pace, in a few years she will have plenty of colleges knocking on her door.