Mitchell Jordon walks along the field behind Memorial Hall wearing a contagious smile on his face.
The 6-foot-2-inch goalie, who captains the Plattsburgh State men’s soccer team, embodies the ideal prototype of a positive leader — he is open-minded, coachable and listens to criticism.
“You can tell him something once and he’ll get it,” said assistant coach Geoff Spear, who has seen the Bolton Landing native rise from fourth goalie to the starting lineup in less than three years. “Through his hard work, his willingness to learn the position and clean up his technical abilities, he’s come a long way.”
In the beginning, however, not everything was so easy.
Kicking the ball as early as third grade, Jordon said he began playing soccer because his parents wanted him to get into sports.
He kept with soccer through middle school and high school, attending soccer camps and playing for multiple teams, such as NY Elite, Saratoga and Bolton Central High School.
Currently PSUC’s starting goalie, Jordon came to PSUC because he enjoys the small-campus vibe as opposed to the atmosphere in huge schools.
“My freshman year, I was the last goalie,” Jordon said. “I came here without expecting much, but I worked my butt off to be where I am today.”
Playing a scant 8 minutes, 34 seconds, and only one game in 2012, Jordon’s confidence was low after his first season with the Cardinals. He turned it around by training in two camps and gained the confidence of his teammates during the preseason of 2013.
Spear said Jordon has cleaned up his footwork and improved as a player each year. From a goalkeeping stance, Jordon exudes athleticism and reacts quickly to incoming shots.
“He’s always had a great mental output,” Spear said. “He has the desire to stay after practice and even work by himself. He’s not that type of player you have to constantly get after or remind of something.”
Jordon said he did not realize how much core drills, shuffling, ladders and getting across the goal could improve his footwork.
“I didn’t realize how much a part it [footwork] would play in college soccer. My feet were stones during freshman year,” he said.
During the 2013 SUNYAC tournament, Jordon guarded the Cards’ net when PSUC clinched the title against Cortland, defeating the Red Dragons 2-1 and finishing the season 15-6-1 with a 6-3-0 conference record.
That season, Jordon was one of the team’s key players, commanding the defense and building team chemistry through his positive attitude, Spear said.
To combat anxiety before a game, Jordon calms down by warming up and thinking ahead.
“I like to think about the saves I can make. I try to be a positive leader instead of being a negative one when breakdowns happen,” he said. “That’s when you lose games.”
Nelson Vetter, Jordon’s friend since their freshman year, said he has seen Jordon develop into the leader he is now. He said Jordon encourages others to try their best on and off the field.
“We’ve grown very fond of shutting off the other team together,” Vetter said. “There’s a wall in front of the net. You cannot ask for more as a teammate.”
As Jordon sees it, if a ball can be stopped from being a threat that is “just as good as doing an upper-90s save.”
Between balancing classes with training and handling pre-game anxiety, Jordon said his favorite thing is to see his biggest fans — his mom, dad and grandmother — at most of the PSUC home games.
“It just makes me smile because they all know how hard I’ve had to work to be where I am today,” he said.
For the 2014 season, Jordon feels the dynamic of the team is improving each week, since the core keeps pushing the starting eleven to work harder. As a result, the whole team improves.
“We’re better at this time this year than we were last year,” he said.
In order to succeed, the little things must count on and off the field.
“There’s always going to be those couple of days when you say, ‘My body is aching,’” Jordon said. “You have to have a good work ethic, not just in soccer, but in everything you do. In the end, that’s why we’re here.”
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