Jackie Podolsky: Rising Through the Ranks
During a game against Purdue University, Jackie Podolsky, senior goalkeeper, recorded a save in the final minutes that would have given Purdue the lead. Instead, the game ended in a tie, and the Penguins had a quality game against a Big Ten team.
Podolsky started her career at the University of Mount Union in 2011. She led the Purple Raiders with 51 saves. She recorded four shutouts in her only season at Mount Union. The Canfield graduate transferred to Youngstown State University after her freshman season to move closer to home.
“It’s really humbling for me honestly. I started out at a Division III my freshman year, and I came here, and I came home,” Podolsky said. “Being able to push myself and see myself grow and have my teammates pushing me to that level — I wouldn’t be able to do anything without them. They make me a better player and a better person.”
Podolsky had to try out for the soccer team to earn a walk-on spot in 2012. Will Lemke, the head coach, gave Podolsky a spot as the third goalie. Eventually, she earned a spot as the starting goalie during her first year at YSU.
“When we first had her come on, she did a tryout at a residential camp, which is kind of unusual because people who are in college don’t come to the residential camp,” Lemke said. “She came to camp to try out in a sense. That point in time, we were meeting with her and her parents, and I was kind of debating on if we were even going to have her on the team. We gave her a spot as a walk-on.”
Lemke and the coaching staff didn’t expect Podolsky to take over as the number one goalie. The coaches thought she would be a great backup, but were pleasantly surprised by the end of the year.
“We thought she was going to be a solid backup keeper, but she came in barely having a walk-on spot starting as a number three keeper and working her way up that first year to the number one keeper,” Lemke said. “It was quite a rise for her, and that was something we didn’t really expect.”
Podolsky’s teammates voted her a member of the leadership council. She leads by example and her demeanor on the field. Her journey to YSU has gained the respect of her teammates.
“She’s a quiet leader. The team has voted her as a member of the leadership council, and they definitely look up to her,” Lemke said. “The keepers respect where she came from, basically getting a roster spot and barely being on the team to being someone who has been a big contributor and had some big games and helped us take the next step.”
A soccer team’s success usually hinges on the talent and success of its goalkeeper. Over the years, the soccer team has improved and so has Podolsky. Statistically, she is one of the best goalkeepers to play for the Penguins. Currently, Podolsky has a 1.44 goals allowed per game average, placing her seventh in the Horizon League in goals against.
“I don’t really look at that. I do my best to not let it go my head. It gives me confidence,” Podolsky said. “I don’t want to get a big head, but it gives me confidence, so I can play better on the field.”