June 27, 2008

All-District soccer: Beyer star Marshall scored 53 goals in 27 games her senior season

Tony Marshall never doubted that his little girl would mature into an elite athlete. He just wasn't sure whether Jennie would do it in softball or soccer.

Tony Marshall never doubted that his little girl would mature into an elite athlete. He just wasn't sure whether Jennie would do it in softball or soccer.

He knew one thing: It wouldn't be baseball, though the youngster displayed plenty of ability.

"She used to hit the ball over the fence at Bel Passi (in) T-ball and hit two grand slams," said Tony, noting his daughter was the only girl on the T-ball team.

"She thought softball was for 'girls' and would rather play baseball with the boys," he said, "but we eventually forced her to switch to softball. She turned out to be a tremendous hitter and an excellent baserunner."

Jennie would continue to play softball and soccer through junior high, going swing for swing with Juliana Santos -- The Bee's 2008 Softball Player of the Year.

When she decided to focus on one sport in hopes of earning a college scholarship, she selected soccer, much to Dad's dismay.

"I think she was a better softball player than soccer player," Tony said. "She chose soccer because she loved the game more. I remember thinking, 'There goes her chance of getting a scholarship.' She proved me wrong."

There's no doubt about that.

Jennie was a four-year star at Beyer High, helping the Patriots to four conference titles. She dominated soccer as no athlete had done since Tisha Venturini, the Davis High star who earned gold as a U.S. Olympian in 1996.

"She has always been known for her aggressive, physical style of play," Tony said. "One would expect that someone who plays as aggressively as she does would have injuries. But interestingly enough, she has never missed a game due to injury."

Jennie capped her career with 53 goals in 27 matches this season, making her The Bee's Soccer Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. She is off to BYU on a soccer scholarship.

"She will be the first to admit her success isn't all because of her," Tony said. "She has really benefited from good timing, going to a school with a good program, a winning tradition and a great coach (Stuart Kaplan) who believed in her as a freshman."

Aside from Tony, the most influential person in Jennie's life might be her brother Brady. She was just 2 years old when Tony realized their strong connection.

"He has been her biggest fan and most trusted critic," said Tony, noting Brady is on BYU's men's team. "This is a dream come true for her to play at BYU while he (is) on the men's team."

Interestingly enough, two other influential folks are from Jennie's softball days. Tony said lessons learned from Mike McHann and Bud Endicott continue to impact the decisions Jennie makes.

"Mike has been a mentor and huge fan (and) Bud was her hitting coach and made a huge impression on her," Tony said.

Jennie's departure also means splitting from Alyssa Stearns, a fellow senior headed to UC Riverside on a soccer scholarship.

"They made the varsity team as freshmen and have been best friends through high school," Tony said. "Alyssa is the unsung hero. Jennie gets a lot of attention for scoring goals but Alyssa is the backbone of the team, keeping the other team from scoring so that we stay in the game.

"Interestingly, Alyssa was recruited by Riverside to play forward. She could easily do what Jennie has been doing, but sacrificed the glory and attention to be the backbone of our defense."

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