Thursday, October 09, 2008
CSUEB SOCCER CAPTAIN BECOMES LEADER ON AND OFF THE PITCH
By STEVEN TAVARES
Understand that the cerebral, dread-wearing defender with the captain's armband wasn't always in control of himself.
When a University of Dallas midfielder was continually jabbing and grabbing at Ferrell last Sunday, the incessant agitation use to set him off.
With minutes to play in a match where the Pioneers nursed a decisive two-goal lead, the same midfielder clutched Ferrell's jersey and tore the hem from the bottom of his kit.
The referee called a foul, but Ferrell pleaded his case, nonetheless, extending the long swatch of material for him to see.
Ferrell shook his head and proceeded to take the free kick.
The maturation of Jordan Ferrell leads us to this because as early as two years ago, he would have handled things differently.
“I probably would have punched [the player],” Ferrell joked, “I would have probably yelled more and lashed out. I probably would have said a lot more to referee.”
Ferrell was the type of player who sulked when he didn't get enough touches and terrorized teammates who failed to make the correct play.
“If I didn't get the ball, I would lose my cool,” said Ferrell, “I would make stupid fouls because I was frustrated.”
During his first two years at Cal State East Bay his intense demeanor reached its apex.
Everything became a competition to him, he says, “I had to be first in everything.”
During Ferrell's sophomore season he was suspended two games by CSUEB men's soccer coach Jair Fory for disciplinary reasons.
His father, David, recalls witnessing his son berating everyone on the field and yelling at the coach.
Eventually, Fory benched Ferrell and his father asked the coach afterwards, “What took you so long?”
To understand the mature Jordan Ferrell, you must understand the old one.
Ferrell grew up rarely playing with children his own age. His brother, who also played soccer at CSUEB, is three years older. All the neighborhood kids were older than Ferrell, too.
To survive, Ferrell had to be better than kids his own age—overachieve or find new play buddies.
“I always played with guys who were older than me growing up. It never scared me to play them because growing up I knew I could play.”
His father believes his son's defiance and intense streak is misunderstood.
“He's a very intense player, but it comes from his inception,” said David, “He's stronger than 40 acres of garlic.”
Before Ferrell was born the doctors told his mother the baby growing inside of her was in decline. They went home and she relaxed.
“They told her that there was something we can do about it—you know, abort it—but we don't believe in that,” said David.
Ferrell eventually would turn into the boy who would make child raising difficult for the Ferrell's, yet revealed glimpses of great promise.
“Of my two boys, this was the one who was more difficult to raise, but it's with great rewards,” said David.
The most infamous story of Ferrell's disobedience occurred at age 11.
“Jordan was yelling at the referee. I yelled his name to get his attention, but he wasn't listening. When he got off the field, we walked to the car and he still wasn't listening so I picked him up and put him on the car and made a dent on my car. He listened then,” said David.
“I should have learned my lesson. I was acting like a child,” said Ferrell recounting the story with a smirk “I was yelling at the players and the ref and then I snapped at him. You can't do that.”
When did the mature Ferrell people see today begin to appear?
Ferrell and his parents point to his time at CSUEB for directing his focus rather than the haphazard antics that quickly dissipated into no real purpose.
That Ferrell would captain a college soccer team one day was by no means set in stone.
Despite captaining teams most of his high school and club career, his prep coach told him he didn't have a chance of playing college soccer anywhere.
The realization stung Ferrell, but his intense nature failed to let the dream go.
“He taught me a lot in two years and then he told me I wasn't good enough,” said Ferrell, “I mean, that's his opinion, obviously.”
In his first two years at CSUEB, he encountered opportunities to transfer to other schools and fought sometimes vigorously with his coach, yet something kept him here.
“If you leave someplace all the time, you don't pass that hurdle—you don't learn,” said Ferrell.
The reason could be Coach Fory.
Despite numerous run-in early on, Ferrell says he believed Fory was the person who could teach him the sport he so desperately loves.
Before deciding to attend CSUEB, Fory simply asked Ferrell what he wanted to do in life.
To Ferrell, this was a liberating question.
“I want to play professional soccer,” Ferrell recalls saying.
Fory stared and said, “That's all?”
Ferrell put a finer point on his dream, “I want to play in Italy or Spain.”
“I thought it was revolutionary for a coach to ask me exactly what I wanted to do in soccer. I believed that Jair could teach me to play on a higher level. to be play and to think like a professional. He offered the avenues for me to reach that goal,” said Ferrell.
The relationship between Fory and Ferrell is a complex one.
Since attaining the captain's armband, Ferrell acts as proxy for the coach in the locker room and on the pitch.
“I'm in really unique position with Jair. I know his style of coaching,” said Ferrell, “We work together often and some things are left unsaid.”
Ferrell recounts how sometimes he communicates the general feeling of the club to Fory at times when he might not notice it.
Other times, he might ask a question of the coach when he notices some teammates have a quizzical look on their faces just to clarify.
“I want the players to know that some of these things come from a player rather than the coaches. I can ask them how they feel,” said Ferrell.
His mother, Kathleen Ferrell, is adamant her son learned to control his impressive leadership qualities while attending CSUEB.
“He learned that here. He has grown into that kind of trust and to motivate others. He came here with soccer skills, but not those skills,” said Kathleen.
Being named captain two games into his junior year was part of the maturation process for Ferrell.
“I realized it was a huge responsibility,” said Ferrell, “I've changed my style of being a captain and leadership since from before.”
Gone was the constant needling of teammates and the incessant rants towards the referee, instead Ferrell began to take players under his wing.
“If someone made a mistake I would get on them instead of trying to instructed them and give them support,” said Ferrell.
Ferrell, who is scheduled to graduate this fall with a bachelor's degree in sociology, thinks his course studies have had a significant impact on how he relates to his teammates and people, in general.
“Sociology gives me a well-rounded view of understanding other people. It definitely helped me with my outlook on the world and how I captain the team,” said Ferrell.
In addition, to his leadership, Ferrell has started to use his soccer intellect to help the team and others.
“He studies this game. He watches soccer and dissects everything,” said David, “To him, this is a science.”
In fact, Ferrell began his career at CSUEB as a forward and has slowly moved to the back line before settling in at sweeper this year.
Ferrell, though, believes his natural position is at defensive midfield—a position that seems to dovetail perfectly with the new Jordan.
“My belief through watching games, is that you can't win without a strong defensive midfielder,” said Ferrell, “They start the attack. They're the anchor and they don't get the glory, either.”
It also echoes what his father believes, Jordan just wants to win.
“Jordan wants to be the best by competing with the best. He competes not for the fact that he wants the headlines, but because he just wants to win,” said David.
Nowadays, with the impetuous nature of his game gone, Ferrell merely focuses on the game, himself and how other can become better around him.
“I's why I get so happy when one of our players scores a goal” said Ferrell, “I make a 40 yard sprint to celebrate with them because I know my hard work as paid off.”