Jasmine Shevitt’s perseverance has brought her a long way.
By Kevin Buckles Jr., Sports Editor
Standing at 5 feet 9 inches tall, long-limbed Jasmine Shevitt can see the soccer field clear as day, though at some moments in her life, her view on the sport she loves became cloudy.
Nicknamed ‘giraffe’ by family and friends because of her long legs and thin frame, 20-year-old Shevitt has used her physique to anchor and captain for the aggressive defensive back line for the Lady Monarchs soccer team. After being a 2014 Western State Conference Honorable Mention selection as a freshman, Shevitt has helped take Valley take to the next level as a sophomore. The program is having their best year in team history, with a record of 11-4-3 (8-1-2) with three games left in the season, due in large part to their stellar defense which has only allowed only two goals in their last 13 matches.
Though her more approachable, off-field demeanor lends one to believe that she is more of a flashy, Alex Morgan-esque type of scoring player, Shevitt makes no mistake about her enthusiasm for playing her rugged position once she steps inside of the lines.
“I love defending, love the physicality of it, and being the aggressor, it’s where I’ve always felt most comfortable playing,” said Shevitt. “But off the field, I’m so nice, I’m the nicest person you’ll ever meet. Some people tell me I’m too nice.”
As a child, the Kentucky-native was anything but what she displays on the field now as an adult. Shevitt’s first love was dancing and cheerleading as she was all about being a ‘girly-girl.’ It wasn’t until her family (mom, dad, and younger sister), moved back to California, where her parents were living prior to Kentucky, that Shevitt was introduced to soccer at around age 7.
“My uncle, who’s a huge soccer fan, first gave the idea to my parents about getting me into sports especially soccer,” said Shevitt. “I ended up playing on a Sunday league team at Balboa Park which was an all boys team.”
Shevitt played on that team until she was 9 years old, before she joined the Valley Storm traveling team where she met close friends and current Valley teammates Jocelyn Hernandez, and Miriam Ramirez.
It was during this time, not long after Shevitt joined the Storm, when soccer times became more gloomy than sunny.
“I went through depression because of soccer,” said Shevitt, as her facial expression and tone immediately went somber. “One of my old coaches was always very negative with me … I would cry all the time after games, after practice, and in my room at night.
“I didn’t want to play soccer anymore.”
Reluctant to let anyone know how much the coach’s demeaning tone and favoritisms was affecting her during the emotionally fragile preteen years she played under him, Shevitt said it took a long time for her to eventually tell her mom how she was really feeling — which led to her to switching to a different team and coach under the same league.
“It took a toll on her, I could see it, she was not herself,” said Ramirez.
“She would always be frustrated and sad. One thing I always saw in Jasmine, is that she never had confidence in herself, and that kind of stemmed from [the coach].”
That confidence was never fully restored until her senior season of high school playing soccer under current Valley assistant coach Jose Leon — who also helped recruit her to be a Lady Monarch after red-shirting at College of the Canyons. Though their relationship started rocky, as he originally reminded her of her former coach, Shevitt grew to respect and love Leon as a coach as she saw herself improving as a player and a person and knew that he had her best interests.
“She is not the type of person to always show her frustration all the time,” said Leon. “But one thing about Jasmine is if you teach her something, even though she may not have the skill, she tries to get it, and right now, she’s playing at another level. She can definitely Division I.”
As Shevitt is finishing up her final season at Valley, she has began to turn her attention to what will be next on her agenda for her career on and off of the field. According to Leon, four Division I schools are interested in Shevitt transferring to potentially joining their soccer team. And though she is majoring in child development and speech pathology, her dream goal, after playing for a university, is to play for the Mexican Women’s National Soccer team.
As for right now though, Shevitt is more than content with just playing the game that she cherishes, after she felt it was almost stripped from her far too soon.
“I’m just in love with the sport, I want to continue playing,” said Shevitt. “I’m just glad that my love for the game kept me going.”