The Daily Wildcat recently spoke with Arizona soccer team's senior forward Jada Talley via Zoom in an interview. Talley is coming off of her best year to date where she set the Wildcats’ record for most goals and assists in one season. She is looking to improve even more in the upcoming season and is not going to let anything stop her.
Daily Wildcat: What made you want to come play for U of A?
Jada Talley: Honestly, when I took the visit, it was just a lot different than the other visits I took. The atmosphere was different, the facilities were different, I liked the staff more. It seemed like they were more big-time in a way, you know, because my offers before that were smaller schools. Honestly, it was between Princeton and Arizona. My mom was not too happy at that moment when I committed, but she likes it now. I think it was the best choice I could have made and everyone agrees in my family.
DW: In 2019, you had a career season. You finished with a career-high 10 goals which is a school record and you were named Pac-12 All-Conference First Team and All-Pacific Region Second Team. Were these accolades something you were looking to achieve or just stepping stones on your path to becoming a professional?
JT: When my junior season started I wasn’t sure about, “Okay I’m breaking this record for most goals and assists in a season,” and you know, going into the season, yes I wanted to be the leading goal scorer on my team and it just so happened that I got both. I think it just came from hard work overall because soccer, at the end of the day, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Somebody could kick a ball backwards and they’ve never done that before in their life and that’s your first goal. It’s hard to predict in soccer because going into Pac-12 play, I think I had like two goals so it wasn’t looking super bright. It wasn’t predicted, but the way the season played out, I got more comfortable, put my head down and started working as an upperclassman trying to lead by example. I think it all just came together how it was supposed to.
DW: With the impact of COVID-19, what are you doing to make sure you're physically and mentally ready to have an even better season?
JT: It’s a lot of controlling what I can control because with [COVID-19] nobody has any control over that and there’s no control over who’s going to get it during the season. At the end of the day, I just have to control my effort and in soccer that’s everything. That’s our style of play. We require effort or you can’t play for us, that’s how I perceive it. It’s a lot different than UCLA. We’re not a pass the ball around 900 times and go to the goal. We apply pressure. [Our style of play] is very fast, in your face, aggressive, psycho almost. I really like that, because it’s something I can control. I can run my ass off if my moves aren’t working and go apply pressure on someone and take the ball. I might choose to make a 20-yard sprint and I’m dying out of breath, but that might be the one I score on. It’s just a lot of not taking plays off and going for as long as I can go before I need a sub. I gotta give 100% for my team and we'll see what happens.
DW: What was your initial reaction when Racing Louisville Football Club claimed your rights? I know there was some confusion.
JT: So far everything is good. Whatever happened, happened. I didn’t really have a choice in it, but I will say I feel very supported by them. I feel like the assistant coach I’ve been talking to — I meet with him every Friday — is trying to build a connection and I appreciate that. It’s not like I got my rights picked and they’re like “We’ll see you in eight months.” I feel like they’re actually trying and they’re supportive of me. It’s a super exciting opportunity because not a lot of people get that, and I realized that a couple of days after. I was like, “dang this is cool.” They didn’t have to do that and they did. And they’re still allowing me to play here which is another reason why I feel supported. They could have been like, “no we need you now; we picked you up let's go.” I don’t feel pushed or anything so it’s good.
DW: I’ve seen on your Instagram that you follow a few other U of A athletes like Jemarl Baker Jr. and Ira Lee. How has connecting with the other athletes on campus improved your experience?
JT: I think because we all know how hard it is to be an athlete. A lot of times it’s perceived by society as solely males that go through it. When you meet girls in college that are also on sports teams, like the basketball team or the volleyball team or whatever, it's kind of like “oh, you guys had weights? We had weights too," or, "you guys have an off day? We’re done; we have an off day today too.” It’s a lot you can relate to and it’s a lot of understanding. It’s harder to connect with someone who hasn’t played sports; these connections are already there for us. You know, [Baker] went to high school right by me and [Lee] was close to me in [California]. Everybody is just right there. Everybody has been to each other's houses back home too. It’s a cool little environment at schools. It’s almost a home away from home because everybody is literally from California. You kind of have family here while you don’t have your real family. These relationships are just cool because everybody is cool. We’re all tired. We’re all putting in work and it’s not forced. We all know what each other go through and it’s cool to see each other ball out.
DW: The team’s schedule was recently released. Is there one game, in particular, you are looking forward to the most?
JT: Honestly, I’m excited to play USC because I heard that they’re playing all of their home games at the Colosseum and that’s really cool. I’m hoping by then we’ll be able to have fans because all of my family is from out there. I would have so many people at that game if I could and it’s my senior year so I wish. But you know, we’ll hope and see. I don’t know, I’m just excited to play Thursday. I don’t even care who it’s against. I just want to play. I’m excited to test some stuff out. I’ve been training different stuff. I just want to try it now.
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