Freshmen Devlyn Jeter gives some insight into her decision to come to UP and play a key role on one of the most talented women’s soccer teams in the country.
By PJ Marcello, Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Now, introducing for your University of Portland Pilots, standing 6'0" tall, hailing from Sacramento, California, freshman midfielder Devlyn Jeter!
The Pilots may have just found its next soccer star with this 2012 four star recruit. Jeter also shares the same background of UP soccer royalty.
In high school, Jeter played for Elk Grove FC where she was a five-year team captain. Elk Grove FC is the same club team that produced former UP stars and current pros Stephanie Cox and the Rapinoe sisters, Megan and Rachael.
"I want to be like them, they are my inspirations," Jeter said. "I brag about coming from the same city as them because they are such great players."
However, Jeter's first experience with UP and Megan Rapinoe did not make her future here seem so promising.
"I came here as a guest on a U-16 team when I was 13 and Megan Rapinoe led a tour of the school," Jeter said. "I remember thinking I did not want to come here because the school was just too small."
In high school her sentiment changed and the small size that disinterested her at first became one of the main reasons she chose UP.
"Over time I came to appreciate that about UP, it gave me a feeling that it was a home away from home," Jeter said. "All the other schools were just too big; I thought I would get lost."
So far the choice to come to Portland has proven to work out well for her, the team and her teammates, who have already notice her presence on the field. Senior Kendall Johnson has been impressed with how well Jeter has been able to fit into the team and contribute right away.
"DJ keeps getting better and more confident," Johnson said. "It's unique that she is a big player but has so much ball skills and can use her feet well. She fits in well with the way we like to play and is a good overall fit for the team."
Jeter has certainly found a home at Merlo. The atmosphere is something she says is unmatched anywhere in the country.
"I'm not gonna lie, my favorite place I've played is here," Jeter said. "At first I was nervous but I realized the community support helped us play better and gave an emphasis to how we play. Playing in front of fans like the Villa Drum Squad and being under the lights is a fun environment."
Jeter does not shy away from big time soccer. Her experience playing for the National U-18 team has certainly prepared her for the change of pace from high school to college.
"It's crazy to go from club soccer in high school and then be thrown into an environment with the best players in the country," Jeter said. "It really shows you what you are good at and what you need to improve on, but it is very fun and I made a lot of close friends already."
As far as preparing for games, Jeter and her roommates have a more loose approach to help them get ready.
"The team always has pregame at 3:30, after that Haylee (DeGrood), Sara Bindl and I go back and blast Pandora. Our favorite stations are Salt-n-Pepa and TLC," Jeter said.
Obviously pregame throwback music works. The Pilots are only seven games in but Jeter's game is already improving.
"I think she has a lot of potential," Johnson said. "I am excited to see what the future holds for her."
You can next see Jeter on the field on Friday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. when the Pilots take on Seattle University on Merlo Field.