Born and bred in Adelaide, Jenna McCormick has hometown loyalties to the Cosmopolitan Coastal Capital. The 21-year-old spent a year competing in the top tier of professional women’s football at Adelaide United during which time she built her game to such an extent that she was crowned Lady Red’s Player of the Year.
Under the impactful guidance of former Socceroo and Reds Captain Ross Aloisi – the coach who improved Adelaide’s game-winning percentage to 25%, a 12% increase on previous coaches, McCormick’s game came on leaps and bounds, culminating with the individual award and ultimately beating a path to the champions’ door. The decision to take her footballing career to another city was one of the hardest the youngster has had to make as McCormick explains.
“It was a very difficult decision to leave Adelaide because they have done a lot for me,” she said. “It’s my hometown and I have a lot of loyalty there. I had to put football first and think of how I could go that extra step or challenge myself a little bit more. I thought ‘I have nothing to lose, everything to gain.’”
Presented with a tantalising opportunity to play with 2014/15 Westfield W-League Champions McCormick took the offer and finds herself in a squad containing defenders Ellie Brush, Catherine Brown, Nicole Begg, Rebecca Kiting and fellow new signing Emma Checker.
“Canberra’s got a very good reputation and were the championship winning team last year so it was all pretty very exciting for me to be in this environment,” McCormick explained of her move. “It’s just a different change. Both clubs are at the same professional level but here we have new players, new coaching staff, new facilities and plenty of resources.”
Sometimes the best strikers can make the best defenders because they understand the thought process. Having this advantage and through the coaching of Aloisi, McCormick has developed into a great defender from the experience of knowing the tricks and insides of a striker and reading the play from when she once sat comfortably in the seat of scoring goals.
McCormick is effusive about the impact that Aloisi had on her positional change and her career. “Aloisi guided me into a defensive position so if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have that experience and knowledge,” she revealed. “Now I’m comfortable in that position and I like playing defense because it’s more me. I’ll be taking that new skill of being a defender and bringing it to Canberra United.”
With the roll out of transfers, fresh faces are plentiful amongst the Canberra United 2015/16 squad so McCormick like the rest, will be looking to gel with one-and-another to strengthen the on-field performance.
“The girls that are already there like the ACTAS girls and the Canberra United girls are all very welcoming,” she added. “We have a couple of things booked in to do as a team which is very exciting and that’s where it will all come together,”
Round two is approaching where Canberra United are home and will take on Sydney FC. There’s a buzz in McCormick’s voice when she speaks about the 2015 campaign where she is looking to ramp it up and bring her physicality to the Canberra United squad.
“I think that’s the word for me, physical. It’s new and exciting and I’m stepping into the unknown and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” McCormick confirmed. “Basically I played with boys my whole youth which is where I got my physical attributes from as well because there was no way I could just run past a boy it was all about the physical contact there and I think that’s where I got one of the best aspects of my game from.”
Although Jenna’s love for football is strong, many wouldn’t know that McCormick played women’s AFL at the highest level and also dabbled in state cricket, always with an aspiration to have a career in sport. When asked to reflect and give advice to younger girls who aspire to become a professional footballer, McCormick had this to say:
“Take risks. Going back to my positional changing I was scared but I had to take it with both hands, take every opportunity no matter what it is, step out of your comfort zone, it’s all about the behind the scenes work rather than in front of the head coach sort of thing because if you do all of that effort and work behind the scenes that’s when you get rewarded.”
With an attitude like that McCormick is sure to become a crowd favourite as she forges a career in green.