Feb. 29, 2012
By Kate Burkholder, UGA Sports Communications
ATHENS, Ga. --- Jamie Pollock envisioned the second semester of her senior year at Georgia playing out with relative predictability.
Finished with her four-year playing career on the UGA soccer team with a reputation as one of the hardest workers ever to come through the program, with All-South Region and first team All-SEC honors recently tacked onto her resume, Pollock was ready to embrace the ‘student’ part of student-athlete. Ready to finish her classes and earn her degree, play another season with the W-League’s Atlanta Silverbacks over the summer, spend time with friends and just enjoy Athens. Then she would figure out what was next, whether it involved pursuing a soccer career overseas or finding a job utilizing her Exercise and Sports Science major.
That’s when the unpredictable happened.
The Powder Springs native was contacted by James Galanis – head coach of her hometown team, the Atlanta Beat of the Women’s Professional Soccer League (WPS). Though the league’s draft had already come and gone, the WPS was bracing to lose several of its star players to national team competition in advance of the 2012 Olympics, and Galanis and Beat owner Fitz Johnson hoped to add reinforcements.
Galanis first reached out to Georgia’s volunteer coach Jonathan Harvey about Pollock, saying he was looking for a “worker.” When they talked by phone, Galanis told Pollock he liked her style of play (the Bulldogs hosted the Beat in a spring exhibition last season) and wanted to add her to the roster for the upcoming season.
It had all the makings of a fairytale ending for a kid who grew up with Mia Hamm posters plastered to her bedroom walls and a dream of playing professional soccer.
“When I heard the news, I was beyond thrilled that I might get the opportunity to go after my dream,” Pollock said. “I was excited and anxious, but I tried to act like it wasn’t a big deal because I didn’t want to get my hopes up or jinx it.”
“But when Coach Galanis called, he told me he wanted to add me to the roster for 2012. He explained the benefits of the experience of playing with and against some of the best players in the world and how it could potentially open other doors for me. I wasn’t really focused on those details, though – I was just wondering why anyone would need convincing for an opportunity like this one.”
Pollock broke the good news to her biggest fans – her parents, Tim and Patrice, and called Galanis back to accept the offer. The two ended their second conversation with Pollock to expect an email from the coach containing her contract.
In the meantime, she rearranged her life accordingly – withdrawing from three of her four classes so that she would be able to be in Kennesaw during the week for training. But when the email came, there was no contract attached. Instead, it contained the news that the WPS had suspended the 2012 season, and Pollock watched as the opportunity slipped away before it arrived.
“It wasn’t the email I was hoping for,” she said. “I was heartbroken, but at the same time grateful for my circumstances considering I hadn’t officially dropped my classes and I know other players had already done more in terms of making changes in their lives for this commitment.”
“It took a day or two for the news to set in, and I am still sad that I didn’t get this chance after all. It’s unfortunate that the playing opportunities for women are so limited in the United States after college.”
For now, Pollock is still in class at UGA and almost finished with her degree. She still hopes to pursue her dream of playing soccer at the next level, whether it happens in a league overseas or with the WPS if it ever resurfaces.
In the meantime, Pollock’s name will always be remembered at Georgia for her toughness and work ethic and hustle. She finished her career starting 80 of the 83 games in which she played, with 12 goals and six assists for 30 points.
And she will always get to say a professional soccer team wanted her.
“This couldn’t have happened to a better kid,” said Bulldogs head coach Steve Holeman. “Here’s someone who won our Coaches Award and our Heart & Soul Award at our banquet last month, and she truly was the heart and soul of our team. She’s a kid who battles and competes every day whether it’s in training or a game, and someone we hate to lose. She had an incredible opportunity to play for a professional team in her hometown, and it’s obviously unfortunate the way it played out. But she’ll be ready for the next opportunity because she works hard every day and that didn’t go unnoticed. I’m excited for her.”
All she can do now – all she knows how to do – is keep playing.
“I have always been and always will be passionate about soccer,” Pollock said. “I will try to continue with it however I can. I’ll play pick-up and try to get some good touches on the ball. You never know what will happen.”