POWHATAN - Jeanne Wolkiewicz had initially gone up to visit Haverford College near Philadelphia to see if that was where she wanted to continue her academic and athletic careers.
The Powhatan High School senior saw that Haverford had a great campus and a great team, and she loved the head women’s soccer coach.
Through her visit, however, she concluded that the school just wasn’t the best fit for her.
But the trip was not over. There was another school less than two miles away from Haverford – the historically women’s college of Bryn Mawr – that they could check out.
Wolkiewicz recalled her mom, who went to a historically women’s college herself, say, “Let’s go look at Bryn Mawr…I think that it might be great for you.”
They pulled up to Bryn Mawr’s campus.
Wolkiewicz felt like her heart had exploded.
“I was so totally convinced that this is my place,” she said, “and no other place is going to make me this happy.”
That day, with 2 percent battery left in her phone, she called Bryn Mawr’s head women’s soccer coach, Paul Stinson and asked, “Can I please come meet you? I want to play for you so badly.”
They eventually talked at Cambrian Row – overlooking “the most beautiful soccer field I think I’ve ever laid eyes on,” Wolkiewicz said – with the trees around them in bloom.
Coach Stinson asked her, “Are you a lefty?”
Wolkiewicz replied, “If you need me to be.”
“Do you play defense?” he asked.
“That’s a hard yes,” Wolkiewicz said.
She recalled him saying: “I think I might be able to find a spot for you.”
They stayed in contact, and then late last summer, after Wolkiewicz had completed a workout with Coach Adam Moss and was in the car riding home, Stinson called her.
“Would you like to commit to Bryn Mawr College?” she remembered him asking her.
“I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I was like . . . ‘Yes!’”
Wolkiewicz praised Stinson and the team that he’s cultivating.
“We have some very similar core beliefs,” she said, adding that she’ll be part of the first team in which all of the players on the team began their careers for the fourth-year coach and/or were recruited by him.
She said that Stinson likes a possession-style game – hold onto the ball, take your time, keep possession and find the best opportunity to score a goal.
“And that is exactly how I like to play,” Wolkiewicz said. “He also plays freshmen a lot – he really believes in playing players all four years.”
Stinson also honors Players of the Week, and his main characteristics for achieving that title, Wolkiewicz said, are that you have to be compassionate, and you need to be a good team player on and off the field.
“Because that’s what matters to him . . . is compassion and empathy and work ethic, and those are things that matter to me pretty much above all else,” Wolkiewicz said. “If you’re hard-working and empathetic, we can figure pretty much anything else out.”
That Bryn Mawr is a historically women’s college was also important to Wolkiewicz’ decision.
“That is something I didn’t think I would love, and it’s something that I can’t see myself going to school without,” she said. “There’s this huge underlying theme of female empowerment, and that has been an underlying theme in my life from my grandmother and my mom.”
She spoke highly of Bryn Mawr’s language department and pointed to the school’s opportunities for traveling abroad, both of which would help towards her career goal of becoming a Foreign Service Officer.
She also described the City of Philadelphia, which is very close to Bryn Mawr and easy to get to, as a “pretty international city” with major international corporations headquartered there.
“I think that is also going to impact me positively as I move towards my career goal,” she said. And the campus itself, she added, is beautiful.
“It is easily I think the most beautiful college campus in the country,” she said. “It helps to walk to the hardest class in your life when you’re walking underneath cherry blossom trees.”
Wolkiewicz has played soccer for the Powhatan Soccer Association, Powhatan Fury, her Virginia Olympic Development Program team, Powhatan High School and FC Richmond.
She earned the opportunity to play in France alongside her ODP teammates. She was also among this school year’s nominees for the $10,000 Lexus of Richmond Leadership Award scholarship.
In addition, Wolkiewicz competed for Powhatan’s indoor track and field team this past winter and loved it, so she decided to stick with coaches Chrissie Blevins and Keilah Tyson and run outdoor track. She was so excited to run, but saw all spring sports get cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She also would have played in one more soccer tournament with her FC Richmond travel team this summer – they had been enjoying a record-breaking season for their age group – but she won’t be able to do so now because of COVID-19.
But while she lost her athletic seasons plus the remainder of the experience that is senior year, Wolkiewicz has gained the unique opportunity to help with COVID testing at GENETWORx Laboratories in Innsbrook.
While at the lab, Wolkiewicz, working a paid internship, strives to assist Charnetta Williams, the operations manager of the molecular laboratory and a lifetime family friend, in any way that she can.
Not being able to play soccer during this time has helped her renew her love of the game.
“Being so busy now, I have to be very intentional about soccer and playing soccer,” Wolkiewicz said. “Also I can’t really go out with other teammates and other soccer people, no coaches, so it’s been a lot of my dad and I finding a field and kicking a ball, which is so on par with…what I needed and didn’t realize I needed to remember how awesome soccer is. It’s just such an awesome game.
“And it’s even more impactful when I can share it with my dad.”
He’s also been helping Wolkiewicz, who is ambidextrous, with her goal of turning herself into a lefty as she looks to help Bryn Mawr as a left back.
She saw from her recruiting process how quickly things can come together.
“I thought that I was out of time. I thought I was done. I thought I wasn’t playing in college,” Wolkiewicz said. “But that’s never true.
“There’s always more time,” she said, “and I am so grateful that Coach Stinson took the time to take my phone call.”