Owls Goalkeeper a Star On and Off the Field

Jessica Badders is making opposing would-be scorers sick on fields across the Sun Belt and elsewhere. But, no need to worry; pretty soon she’ll be able to provide them with a remedy. The pre-pharmacy student and star goalkeeper for FAU’s women’s soccer team is excelling in the classroom as well as on the field.

The senior has seen significant time as a starter since she was a freshman. In her first two years, she was splitting time with the now-graduated Megan Coyne. But when Badders took over full-time starting duties during her junior year in 2007, she did not disappoint. She posted 10 shutouts and saved 52 shots while playing every minute of every game.

Badders has played every minute of this season, too, making 31 saves. She totaled six saves in an overtime loss to the Florida Gators, ranked 20th nationally at the time.

While Badders admits she is disappointed with the team’s 1-9-1 start, she is anything but ready to give up, saying she still expects big things out of her team. Not only does she have high expectations for her team, she has expectations of herself as well.

“I’m hoping for a lot of shutouts [this season],” Badders says. “I want to give my forwards plenty of opportunity.”

That selflessness is appropriate because her team considers Badders one of its leaders, as does her coach, Brian Dooley.

“She is more of a quiet leader. She lets her play do the talking and her teammates draw off of that,” Dooley says.

Her teammates indeed do draw off of that and realize Badders’ importance to the team.

Senior midfielder Natalie D’Oria says, “She is a huge asset to the team; without her we’d be unorganized.”

When asked if she is feeling pressured about bringing the Sun Belt title back to Boca Raton, Badders was very straightforward and firm: “I want it bad.”

Speaking of pressure, Badders deals with that between the pipes and in the classroom. The biology major has a GPA just shy of 4.0. When she is not knocking soccer balls away from nets, she is cracking open textbooks with just as much intensity.

Her expectations are as high, if not higher, in the classroom as they are on the field. She was named to the 2005 Atlantic Sun All-Academic squad as a freshman. It came as no surprise for her.

“I expected it. I’ve always excelled in the classroom,” she confidently says.

She’s not boasting either; she is simply telling the truth. As a soccer star at Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas, she was a member of the National Honor Society, the Duke University Talent Identification Program, and a Texas Scholar.

Balancing classroom excellence with soccer is no easy task, but it is obvious she is up for the challenge.

“It is very hard [balancing soccer and academics], but I manage to find time to study at the airport and on the plane,” she says.

Coach Dooley also takes note of her classroom merit, saying, “It just speaks towards the determination she has, and I feel her teammates draw off of that also.”

While she is talented on the field, Badders is relying on her adept mind to take her places in the future. Upon graduation she plans to go to pharmacy school at an, as of yet, unnamed institution in her native Texas.

She says she has no intentions of playing soccer professionally, saying she, “would like to make better money.”

She also acknowledges that it takes a lot of work to be a professional athlete and she would rather devote her energy to a career as a pharmacist.

So, next time you are at an FAU women’s soccer game (somewhere Badders encourages more people to be), and you are in awe of the goalkeeper’s ability to protect her goal, keep in mind that one day she’ll be an even better pharmacist.