Jordan Is A Leader For Hopewell
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Mar 18, 2014, 20:07
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
HOPEWELL — Tyler Jordan leans against the wall on Bill Littlepage court and lets out a hefty laugh before making a reference about his life being almost a direct scene from the movie Kicking and Screaming. From birth, soccer has been the true passion of the Blue Devils' captain.
It's the passion he has for the game which shines brightly with every word he speaks and minute played on the pitch. The way Jordan never relaxes at any moment, hustling to cut off an oncoming rush, pressuring the goalkeeper or finding a lane for a left-flank run.
All of it was on display in the Blue Devils' 4-2 scrimmage win over Appomattox Regional Governor's School. While the nerves of playing against some of their friends certainly affected him early on as Jordan's first-touch was a bit too strong, allowing defenders to regain possession or fire off a wayward shot, he was able to correct himself in an instant.
Given a reprieve following a break in the action, Jordan's first-touch was perfect as he deftly slide the ball from his right to left-foot before taking a crack at goal for a tally. Then, no more than a minute later, Jordan tallied again. It was an impressive feat for anyone, but it meant more coming from the captain of the team.
By controlling his own nerves to finish in the final third, he set the example for the rest of his teammates, much like he tries to do in every game.
"I kept telling them to keep their heads up," Jordan explained. "We knew that once we got the ball moving, we could out-play them. And that's what we did. We were getting frustrated and trying to score ... and I just kept telling them to use your opportunities when you get them and we capitalized."
But it can also be said the team has capitalized by having a co-captain like Jordan.
In addition to being a captain of the soccer team, Jordan is also the class president for his school which demonstrates that his dedication doesn't end when he leaves the pitch. Instead, it continues in all aspects during school hours as he helps to plan trips and organize graduation festivities.
It's these types of qualities which impresses his head coach because of the person he has become.
"I coached his dad 28 years ago and to that extent he plays a lot like his dad," Brad Dalton said of Jordan. "He gives 100 percent ... and it's starting to, I don't want to say infect the team because that's a bad word, but it's helping the team to understand that this is what we have to do every day."
And for a Hopewell team which now resides in Conference 26, they see an opportunity in front of them. They know they have the talent on their own roster and they also know they are playing a tough schedule which will only prepare them better for the Conference Tournament.
Instead of playing those within their conference, Hopewell will play their old Central District schedule and face the likes of Prince George and Thomas Dale which will surely test the team moving forward.
"It's just going to make us 10 times better," Jordan said. "I know a lot of the schools in our conference, we're bigger than them ... We are going to have to keep our focus because against Varina and ARGS, we thought we were better than them and they came back and scored. We just have to remember that anything can happen."
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
But most importantly, they will have Jordan up top as he tries to make the same off-the-ball runs as Manchester United's Robin Van Persie. In fact, it's his know-how in the final third which allowed him to lead the team in scoring last season with nine goals and nine assists.
Yet, the amount of times he scores — while important because he needs to produce for Hopewell to have success — doesn't matter. All he cares about is the wins and losses. When one takes a glance around the gym, there are no soccer banners. Above all else, he wants the school to have pride in its soccer program.
"You don't see anything about soccer. In pep rallies, it's basketball this, football that," Jordan explained. "We want something soccer on the wall and that's been a goal for most of us since ninth grade. It's at the top of our list. We don't care who scores the most goals, our main goal is to come out as a team and hoist that trophy at the end of the season."
Added Dalton, "That's what it's all about for them — recognition. They deal with trash-talk from their friends from other schools and last year it would eat at them. So far, we haven't talked about other teams ... It's one game at a time and do what we need to do for each game."
And with a captain who possesses not only the skill, but leadership qualities of Jordan, it would be hard to bet against the Blue Devils building off of their two scrimmage wins en route to a successful season.