By Aaron Tomich/NPSL.com
Standing in the net for 90-plus minutes in any given match, a goalkeeper must wait patiently, as the opportunity to make a game-changing save could strike at any moment.
The mental grit it takes for a keeper to maintain focus while also staying on high alert is immense, and certainly a skill only few players can ever master.
Former New Orleans Jesters Soccer Academy goalkeeper Jourdan Schumacher emphasised that it takes every part of his body to be perfectly in tune during each match.
“You have to have 100 percent focus for all 90 minutes and any extra added time,” said Schumacher, who is currently in his freshman year at Coastal Carolina University. “One thing I learned while playing in the Academy and also with the first team in NPSL is that you can have one moment to dwell on [any given mistake], but you have to get right back up because if you don’t, you’re all of the sudden giving up that second goal.”
Mental fortitude in goal is one of the many lessons he has taken from his time with New Orleans Jesters Soccer Academy at each level he’s been a part of. Joining the club at nine years old, Schumacher spent seven years mastering his craft inside the net.
What inspired his decision at an early age to play one of the toughest positions in the sport? His father, who Jourdan watched play in Sunday league games, saving goals and helping lead a team to victory.
“He was always there for me after my games when I was younger, so he always helped me and gave me tips on how to be a better player, how to move on from each mistake,” said Schumacher. “Having him there with me to be able to coach me through those [goalkeeping] challenges is something I’m really thankful for.”
Beyond inspiration and mentorship from his father, Schumacher said that he was grateful to have role models within Jesters Soccer Academy and the NPSL first team to help his continual development. For him, his goal of playing at higher levels was one that the Academy guided him through, which then translated to eventually making appearances in the starting 11 with the first team.
“It’s been a pleasure to watch Jourdan’s progression from a young age with our youth Academy, through the NPSL U-19 competition and finally with the full NPSL squad,” said Kenny Farrell, New Orleans Jesters head coach and New Orleans Jesters Soccer Academy Director of Coaching. “He has had the benefit of a fully developed local pathway and I can’t overstate how important these opportunities have been for his overall soccer career.”
Having older teammates helped create learning opportunities in every aspect, refining his goalkeeping skills each day at practice. Schumacher is no stranger to success on the pitch, as in just his senior season in high school, he recorded 14 shutouts and had a goals against average of 0.65 – two truly standout statistics. That success led his team to win a state championship before he was named the 2020 Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year in Louisiana.
Following that success from high school, Schumacher said that after developing through the Jesters Soccer Academy, he was proud of making the first team in NPSL, and eventually his first start in goal in 2021.
“It felt like it was the start of accomplishing my goal of playing for the team,” said Schumacher. “I knew that I had worked hard enough to get there and I had earned that achievement, but it was only the beginning….If I knew that I was able to get on that team with guys that are five to 10 years older than me, then I’m able to do anything I set my mind to as long as I work hard.”
Like his father and teammates who provide inspiration and act as mentors to his growth, Schumacher models his own play after English Premier League keeper Kasper Schmiechel, particularly his leadership on the pitch.
“[Kasper] is just a great leader, honestly. It’s the best way I can put it,” said Schumacher. “Whenever he makes a mistake, or he makes a bad pass or some sort of blip in his play, he instantly fixes it and he gets back in the game, making sure his team knows he’s there to help win the game.”
Schumacher loves Schmeichel’s devotion to the pursuit of perfection, and wants to emulate that in his own daily life in soccer. He knows that puting in the work is worth the struggle; that the training both physically and mentally is key to his success in the net. And that hard work is a message he wants to pass on to younger and future players at New Orleans Jesters Soccer Academy.
“If you want something, you’ve got to go out and get it,” said Schumacher. “There’s nothing in between you and that thing. If you want it, work hard and you can do it.”
Farrell echoed the impact of Schumacher’s hard work while also emphasizing the importance of developing local players saying, “Our challenge now is to continue to offer these same opportunities to local soccer players whether it be at the competitive youth level or with the NPSL U-19 competition, but always with an eye towards getting local soccer players involved with our full NPSL squad.”
Photo Credit: James E Cage Jr.