The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

Chasing dreams, passing obstacles

Benjamin pursues soccer despite lack of school team

Small schools allow for their students to be involved in a variety of activities; however, they are more limited in the activities students can choose from. Because of this, students might have to choose between a sport they love and the school they attend.

Sophomore Jenna Benjamin has overcome this challenge by continuing to play soccer despite Yutan not having a team.

“I’ve played soccer since I was four…it’s something that I never saw myself giving up because it’s what I feel I’m best at,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin started her soccer journey playing as part of a recreational team in Elkhorn and has had many fun early memories as she was learning that game. 

Benjamin tries to pass the ball up field to one of her forwards. Benjamin’s main position on her team is defensive centerback. (Courtesy Photo)

“One of my favorite memories from soccer was this one time when I was little, this girl was walking in front of me and she had glasses, and she turned around as I kicked the ball, and I ended up breaking her glasses,” Benjamin said. “I cried a lot after that, but looking back I remember how much fun it was playing when I was young even though I didn’t know what I was doing.”

As Benjamin grew up, she began to play more competitively in Elkhorn, moving up from rec league to select. Five years later, she is still playing for the same club team called ESC (Elkhorn Sporting Club) Roots, which is the highest team in the U16 age division.

“I played with the same girls for a while now, and we’ve been pretty good,” said Benjamin. “This past season we placed third overall in our league and traveled to St. Louis.”

Along with the opportunity to travel out of state, this past fall, Benjamin and her team were able to play in the Nebraska State Championship game held at Creighton University’s Morrison Stadium. While the team lost, Benjamin was happy to have some of her friends and family at the game.

“I don’t know a whole lot about soccer other than that Jenna plays it, but I could tell from watching her in the state game that she does a lot for her team, and she’s the best there is,” Benjamin’s best friend and fellow sophomore Jenna Trent said.

Agreeing with Trent was Benjamin’s mom, Jody Benjamin, who said, “No one else in our family played or plays soccer, so admittedly, we don’t know a lot about the game beyond the rules. But even without that, her determination, aggressiveness and ‘always on’ hustle is not just fun to watch and cheer but makes us all proud.”

Benjamin works to steal the ball from an opposing player during a game in Colorado. Benjamin has competed in many out-of-state tournaments as showcases for college coaches. (Courtesy Photo)

Besides the compliments of her supporters, Benjamin has also received state recognition for soccer.

“After the season, I found out I was named Top 11 for the second consecutive year…being in the Top 11 basically means that I’m ranked within 1 and 11 in the state of Nebraska for soccer players my age,” Benjamin said.

Even though she has had many successful achievements in her club team, one goal Benjamin hasn’t been able to achieve is starting a school team at Yutan.

“I’ve talked to [the activities director Mr. Lynch] multiple times about having a soccer team at Yutan, but he says there isn’t enough kids to do that,” Benjamin said. “We’ve looked into joining a co-op, but all of them are full.”

Since the option of partnering with other schools wasn’t available, Benjamin considered the idea of transferring her to a bigger school or even quitting soccer but eventually decided not to.

“While there have been moments she has questioned why is she playing if she can’t play for her school, the love she has for Yutan, her friends, her basketball and track teammates and all the things she gets to be involved in far outweighs the soccer team,” Jody Benjamin said.

Benjamin added, “I enjoy my school and friends too much to want to transfer for a sport. I can continue to have my love for soccer and play club.”

Her ultimate hope is that this love will create opportunities in the future.

“In the future, I plan to play soccer in college,” Benjamin said. “Yutan might not allow me to play soccer here, but it still gives me the opportunity to get into a good spot for college.”


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About the Contributor
Haley Kube
Haley Kube, Senior writer
Haley Kube is a senior and in her fourth year of journalism. She enjoys writing sports news, feature stories and making infographics.  Outside journalism, Haley is involved in student council, FBLA, basketball, track, football, NHS, and speech.
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