Bryan heads to Carson-Newman
By Ryan Bisesi
Everything old will be new again for Jenna Bryan.
The midfielder will return to home state of Tennessee next year to play for Carson-Newman in Jefferson City.After living in Chattanooga for much of her life, Bryan moved to Salisbury in 2008 and got a look at the South Athletic Conference’s soccer through Catawba. “I just started sending out letters to schools I’d be interested in,” said Bryan, a native of Knoxville. “I’m really familiar with the SAC Conference because of Catawba. I talked to Catawba, Brevard and Mars Hill.”
Bryan scored six goals and ranked third on the team with 11 assists last year in helping the Hornets to a 2A Central Carolina Conference championship and second-round state playoff appearance. She’s achieved the trio of All-County, All-Conference and All-Region each of the last two seasons. Bryan and Karen Presnell, who signed with Catawba, will lead the Hornets in chasing another conference title this season.
“Both of them are vital cogs in our success for the last two or three years,” said Salisbury coach Matt Parrish, who added that Bryan was a solid distributor of the ball and handled corner kick duties. “They’re both leaders in their own chosen way.”
Bryan says conditioning is a top priority for preparing for the college level. After being a defensive center mid-fielder during most of her high school career, Bryan will move to outside back for C-N. “I’ve always been very flexible with my position,” Bryan said. “Even though I’m on defense, I can still run up on offense and be involved.”“Right now, getting in shape is a big thing,” Bryan said. “Working on my strength building, its going to be a higher competition level”
“You can always improve upon your touches anytime in soccer,” she said. “Overall, just working really hard is what I’m planning on doing to be successful.”
While in Tennessee, Bryan played on a 18U club team at 15, which elevated her game playing among those older than her. Bryan and Presnell played with FCCA Rowan, which has three members playing at Catawba next year.“It helped me to play on the U18 team when I was 15,” Bryan said. “There was definitely higher competition.”
Carson-Newman was 8-1 in the SAC last year and 11-7 overall.
Bryan knows her soccer relationship with Presnell will transfer from teammate to rival next year, but looks forward to the dynamic, with playful banter already starting prior to enrolling.
“I try not to talk smack,” Bryan joked. We kid around that we’re going to beat each other up. That’s the kind of friends we are. Actually, three girls from my club team are going to Catawba and I’m going to Carson-Newman. I think it’ll be fun and interesting when we play each other. They’ll be a deeper rival.”
When Catawba plays a home-and-home series next year with Carson-Newman, would Bryan take it easy on her former teammate?
“No,” she says empathically. “Why would I do that?”
Bryan plans to major in elementary education.