Jennifer Nye, a freshman soccer player for the nationally ranked Charlotte 49ers, has evolved throughout her first year in college.
As a standout at Hopewell , the sky was the limit. Recruited by many colleges to play defense, Nye decided to stay close to home and attend UNC Charlotte.
"Having the opportunity to play right in my own backyard was something I couldn't pass up," said Nye. "Charlotte is a top university with a great soccer program. This decision also allows me to focus on both my degrees, physics and math. Having my family close by was very important to me as well."
But that first year, Nye underwent knee surgery after an earlier injury and surgery in high school. Her playing time was limited.
"This was extremely difficult," said Nye. "I love playing soccer and playing soccer with my sisters (teammates). But the support of the girls and my family helped me through the pain and tough times."
Understanding that soccer would not last forever, Nye decided to hang up the cleats and focus on her studies. But with the current team manager graduating this spring, Nye pounced on the opportunity. Starting this summer, she will become the new 49ers team manager, continuing to help in the sport she loves.
"I have been truly blessed," said Nye.
"To have the opportunity to play an elite level of Division I soccer, or any sport for that matter, is an honor and a privilege. If I can give back in anyway to help my university and teammates, I most definitely will."
Nye added that she would like to eventually become a high school teacher and didn't discount the chance of returning to her high school alma mater. She has also maintained a 3.5 GPA her freshman year of college.
The relationships that were developed throughout Nye's first year as a student-athlete will last a lifetime.
"It was truly awesome," said Nye. "The personal connection that we formed was instant. No matter if you were a senior or freshman, we were in it together, for each other."
Nye made an impact on her teammates; All-American center midfielder Hailey Beam was one of them.
"She's a very hard-working and dedicated player," said Beam.
"Great girl to be around and also gives 100 percent. Sad to hear about her injury that prevents her from playing soccer, but she will be missed as being a player on the field, but glad she will still be around and involved as a manager."
Though she may not be playing, Nye would still like to help others achieve their goals and offers advice to high school students.
"If you really want to play on the next level, you must get in contact with the college coaches," said Nye. "No matter what, hard work will conquer all. If you're willing to put in the time in the classroom and on the field, anything is possible."