The off-season is sacred for athletes, it’s an opportunity to refresh, refocus and refine. For one local soccer star, home is where she does all of that. Our Despina Barton sits down with former Olympia standout and FSU goal keeper Caroline Jeffers to talk national championship, future of the game and how she’s finding ways to share the sport:

  • Caroline Jeffers is apart of FSU Soccer's 2018 National Championship Team
  • Jeffers graduated from Olympia in 2015 and spent her first two years at East Carolina
  • She enjoys working with Special Olympic athletes and sharing the game of soccer

There was no confusion on the role Caroline Jeffers was set to play for Florida State last year.

“I knew I was the backup goalkeeper,” Jeffers explained. “I was there for support, moral support, and emotional support anything I needed to be.”That was the case up until Brooke Bollinger went down in the ACC Championship against North Carolina on November 4th.

Jeffers, an Olympia High School grad, was thrust into the high stakes match.

“My dad, it’s funny, had always told me to ‘stay ready, stay ready, you never know what can happen,’” Jeffers added about the unforeseen opportunity.  

In that game Jeffers would give up two goals but the team still won.

“I didn’t want to celebrate with my team mates after because I felt like I let them down and I was like you know what I have to let that go and start moving onto the next game.”

And it worked; FSU’s run would end six games later with Jeffers still in goal, this time posting a shutout against the Tarheels, en route to the Noles second College Cup Championship.

“Still to this day, I’m like ‘we actually won a national championship’ –it was very surreal and I think it will be one of the best days of my life.”

But that season is all behind her now, as she is training back in Orlando apart of the Orlando Kicks FC, all to better her game for her final year at FSU.

“There’s a reason why she goes to Florida State, her work ethic is through the roof,” Orlando Kicks Head Goalkeeper Coach Brittain Wagner said.  “You can’t ask for a simpler player to coach and a better player to coach.”

So four days a week Jeffers drives 30 minutes from her parents’ home in Windermere to join an elite group of young soccer players to train at Montverde Academy.

She even gets a chance to go up against a player she’ll see in the regular season—Wake Forest forward Shayla Smart.

“I had no idea that she played for FSU or who she was and she came to practice one day and coach was like ‘oh yeah Caroline played for FSU’ she goes to FSU?” Smart, a Montverde graduate, explained of their first meeting.

“It’s really cool to meet other players in the ACC and train at a high level. Like we are both trying to go back to the season and have the same similar goals like to make an impact on our teams.”

For Jeffers, she’s entering her redshirt senior season and is one of the oldest on the field during these sessions. She understands the game will soon go away and that’s got her thinking about ways to hold on.

“At Florida State we do an autism camp each spring,” Jeffers said. “In high school I worked with special needs kids at my school. So just being able to give back to those kids and let them enjoy that sport that they may not get to play every day is very rewarding.”

After she finishes her collegiate career in Tallahassee, Jeffers plans to become an educator and continue to work with autistic children and share the game with as many people as she can.

And though her journey to success has been winding she wants others to know that you can do anything you put your mind to.

“I had no idea that I would be at Florida State and I would be a National Champion but I never stopped working hard and I always knew what I wanted and I was going to push myself until I got there and knowing that you can do that and keeping that in the back of your head, is what’s most important.”