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Chelsea blue to Bobcat blue
Freshman bridges gap between London and Connecticut
Soccer has been a dedicated passion for Joanna Proctor since the age of 9. Playing on numerous teams for many years, the sport had become a tradition. But the freshman defender for the Quinnipiac women’s soccer team never thought her passion would spark the toughest decision of her life.
Coming to Quinnipiac from Frimley, England, Proctor ultimately made the decision to come to the United States, not only to play soccer but to receive an education as well.
“My parents at first were like, ‘It’s quite far away you know. Would you be able to do that?’” Proctor said. “And then they kind of realized I had to do it. If I got the opportunity, I couldn’t miss out.”
It was tough for John and Vicky Proctor to say goodbye to their only child, but they both understood playing soccer and attending school at Quinnipiac was the opportunity of a lifetime for their daughter.
Proctor left behind great memories in England, some that helped get her recognized by the women’s soccer program. She played for the Chelsea Ladies Under-17 club, an affiliate of Chelsea F.C. Having a successful stretch with the club, she was given the chance to compete with some of the best players in England.
“I started when I was quite young. I was about 9,” Proctor said. “At that age you just train and play other teams; we played Arsenal, Fulham, Charlton and other teams. And then I just kind of stayed in the system and I stopped playing for my regular club and carried on playing for Chelsea until last season.”
There were many advantages that came along with playing for the Chelsea U-17 club. Proctor received the best training and coaching, as well as practicing at a professional facility, all which helped her become the player she is today.
“The facilities and the training were just second to none,” Proctor said. “We trained at Cobham which is where the actual Chelsea men’s team train. All the facilities were amazing, all the coaching was brilliant so I had the best coaches I could have had, to make me a better player.”
Proctor analyzed what it meant to play for Chelsea and then started to look further down the road and realized that she can go a long way with her talent.
She has gone a long way indeed, traveling more than 3,000 miles to get to where she is today.
Starting in 13 of her first 15 games, Proctor has already established her ability to defend at a collegiate level in just her first year at Quinnipiac. But there are other responsibilities that come with being a soccer player at this university.
“You get a sense of whether they just want to be here to have a good time or they want to be here for an education,” Quinnipiac head coach Dave Clarke said. “In some cases, players just want to be here for soccer.”
It was important for Proctor to determine if Quinnipiac was the best choice, not just in terms of soccer but also in terms of a better education. Since she was overseas, she didn’t get the chance to visit the university prior to handing her enrollment papers to the admissions office.
“I didn’t seriously look at any other school in the U.S. apart from Quinnipiac,” Proctor said. “In England, I kept my options open and I applied to college back in England, but I think it was just the coach [Clarke]. The way he wanted to play fit.”
Proctor had to verify if Quinnipiac offered a degree she wanted to pursue for a career. She ultimately decided to declare her major in psychology.
“Jo was a combination of all of the above,” Clarke said. “Wants to go to school in America, wants to be here for the long hall, wants to graduate. It was a good fit for the school, good fit academically.”
Living in the United States has definitely been a drastic change for Proctor, but it was something that she was mentally prepared for.
Players like senior captain Beck Kiting, who also travels overseas coming from Canberra, Australia, help freshmen players like Proctor adjust to a new lifestyle.
“When I first found out that Jo was coming from England onto the team as a freshman this year, I made it sort of a point to contact her before school even started,” Kiting said. “Just to let her know that if she had any questions or any concerns she had with coming to America and on the team that I was here as an outlet to help her because I have been in a similar position to her, coming from oversea.”
Proctor has made some serious strides on improving her athleticism and style of play since coming over from England. She knew that by coming to America, the style of play was going to be different, as well as the athleticism shown by some of the players.
“It’s been quite difficult, in some ways,” Proctor said. “I’ve been taught certain ways, so coming here was a bit different. It’s more athletic over here; less technical but more athletic. What I’m trying to work on is getting forward more. As a right back I need to be able to go forward and help my team score and get some assists this season. I think that will come over the next few years as I get fitter and stronger.”
Proctor hasn’t wasted anytime making her presence felt in her freshman campaign with the Bobcats. She has seen a lot of playing time as her endurance helps keep her on the field for an entire match. Her strength and agility will make her a valuable asset for the team further down the road.
As far as seeing her family goes, her parents have yet to visit to watch their only child play in a college game but Proctor says they watch the games online when they can, telling her it’s “quite surreal” to hear her name being called out for the first time.
“All the different terms they use, they found it quite strange but they’re hoping maybe to come out next year and see where it goes,” Proctor said. “The main thing is probably homesickness that a lot of girls would find and probably transitioning to the style of play is a bit different. At first it’s hard, but you’re here for a reason.”