Left-footed leader

Alonzo’s presence on field allows her to commit to Memphis


Mari Pletta

Coppell junior left forward Jojo Alonzo looks to pass against Irving MacArthur on Jan. 28 at Buddy Echols Field. Alonzo’s unique ambidextrous abilities and versatility gained the attention on collegiate programs, allowing her to commit to the University of Memphis.

Sydney Rowe, Staff Writer/Photographer

Within a team, sport and world dominated by righties, Coppell junior left forward Jojo Alonzo has fought to stand out as a left-footed leader. Her skills and accolades through Coppell soccer and her club team, Solar Soccer Club, allowed her to commit to the University of Memphis, which is one of the top Division I women’s soccer programs in the country.

Alonzo shines in her usual position of left forward. Her strong presence on the field, however, was no easy feat. Coppell High School chemistry teacher and former girls soccer coach Chris Stricker trains Alonzo in private sessions focused on skills and becoming comfortable with using both feet.

“We have really worked on her shot,” Stricker said. “She really has worked hard at building up her right side. When I first started working with her, her right foot wasn’t that good but now we’ve built up to where she can score with both feet.”

Her work to gain ambidextrous abilities has worked well to her advantage, as she is able to switch the field easily and score numerous goals with either foot.

“Goalscorers, it’s hard to find goalscorers,” Stricker said. “She’s not the most physical presence, but she’s very technical and since she’s worked on it, she has a knack for putting the ball in the back of the goal.”

Coppell coach Ryan Dunlevy noticed he had something special very early in the program. Her attitude and hard work stood out as a freshman on varsity and even garnered the attention of higher-level coaches at one of her first tournaments with the team.

“Whenever we went down to Georgetown her freshman year, we were borrowing a facility at Westwood High School and some coaches came and watched us do a run-through,” Dunlevy said. “One said ‘Who’s that one, with the green cleats?’ It was [Alonzo] and he told me, ‘Man, that’s special.’”

Her skills have not gone unrecognized, as she has won multiple awards such as District 9-6A Newcomer of the Year her freshman year and Co-Utility Player of the Year for her sophomore season. Her accolades attracted collegiate attention and after what she describes as a difficult recruiting process, Alonzo verbally committed to the University of Memphis on May 1.

“The process was really hard,” Alonzo said. “It took a while for me to send out emails, putting myself out there with highlight videos. It was just hard with the stress of tons of coaches watching and having to always put on your best game.”

After looking at the stature of the school and it’s programs, Alonzo decided Memphis is where she wants to be.

“Memphis is a really good school,” Alonzo said. “You wouldn’t expect it to be a good school but if you look at the rankings in soccer programs and the coaches it’s like, ‘Wow, this is the high level want to train at.’”

Alonzo describes her mom, Erika Alonzo, as being one of the biggest outlets of support as she explored her talents in the sport and went through the recruiting process.

“I am her designated travel parent, I travel wherever she wants to go,” Mrs. Alonzo said. “[I] just try to motivate her and try to tell her one game can make a difference.”

In order to help her gain mental strength on the field, Mrs. Alonzo often gives advice to Jojo on what kind of attitude to bring onto the pitch. 

“I tell her, ‘If you put good out, then good will come to you. Don’t let any negativity go off of you, then you won’t get any negativity back,’” Mrs. Alonzo said. 

Jojo’s value is undeniable for Coppell soccer, as she possesses the ability to perform at positions other than just her usual left forward. In recent years and even this season, when the team experiences shortages at other positions, she is asked to step in. 

“She is willing to sacrifice for her team,” Stricker said. “She has played left-back instead of left forward because that’s what the team needed and that’s a big deal for a player to have that kind of character.”

Dunlevy credits Jojo’s success to her hard work ethic. Although she is not quite an outspoken leader, he describes how she leads through the example of giving her all in most everything he presents to the team.

“She does everything the right way,” Dunlevy said. “You don’t have to count her reps in the weight room or make sure she’s going all the way to the line on sprints. She goes 100% all the time.”


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