By Mason Nesbitt
For The Signal
Jasmine Parada’s story is not all that unusual.
The narrative, at universities across the country, generally goes something like this: Kid goes to college. Kid meets adversity. Sometime around the end of his or her four years, a light bulb goes on – or, in Parada’s case, begins to glow blindingly bright – and kid blossoms into a man or woman.
Three years ago, The Master’s University women’s soccer coach Curtis Lewis scouted a program-changing talent at Valencia High. This year, amid an impressive 12-3 start that has the Mustangs in the hunt for a first-round bye in next month’s Golden State Athletic Conference tournament, Parada has played the part. It just took time.
“This year, I have come to the reality that I’m not in control of what happens during the season, whether it’s injury or what have you,” Parada says. “I can only control the things that I know I can be working on – practicing hard, my attitude toward the game and my teammates.
“That’s helped me have a mentality that whatever happens is in the Lord’s hands, and it’s going to be good whether I see it (in the moment) as good or bad.”
In terms of production, Parada has been exceptionally good. Through 15 games, the junior forward leads the Mustangs with 12 goals, by far a career high in a career that started earlier, and probably slower, than expected.
Parada graduated a semester ahead of schedule from Valencia High and joined Master’s for spring 2015. High school, she says, wasn’t really her scene. So the decision wasn’t particularly hard.
“It wasn’t so much the sadness of leaving high school as it was the joy to enter college,” she says.
The move allowed Parada to learn Lewis’ fast-paced, all-out-all-the-time system. It also gave her a chance to get to know her teammates, well in advance of her freshman season.
The transition, though, wasn’t without challenges, both athletically and relationally.
“It took her a little time to get acclimated,” Lewis says.
As a freshman, Parada scored three goals in 17 games. She played with energy but couldn’t always pressure opponents without fouling. At times, she was too tense.
Sophomore year, injury limited Parada to 11 games and no goals. It didn’t, however, limit her growth.
“I think that was actually a game changer for me,” Parada says. “It showed me that anything can happen. You can be at the peak of your career and then injury happens and you have to figure out how to be on the sideline encouraging your teammates.”
Parada entered last spring with a, well, spring in her step. She began to better grasp Lewis’ system. She started to play loose and “use her gifts,” Lewis says.
“We were really, really hopeful,” the coach says, “but because it was spring ball, you didn’t know for sure. You have to go out there in the fall.”
This fall, Parada’s been everything the coaching staff hoped for.
“You could tell right away that it had clicked,” says Lewis, who believes Parada getting engaged played a large role in her playing carefree.
Says teammate Tara Aalem, “She’s really used her drive and motivation to learn more about the game, specifically as a striker.”
Saturday, Parada struck again. In the seventh minute of the Mustangs’ 5-2 loss at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Parada booted the ball inside the far post for the first Master’s goal of the game. Lewis doesn’t expect it will be her last.
“We’re super excited to have another year with her,” he said. “… I think she can be even more explosive.”
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