Senior Lisa Jakubowicz has done what many great athletes do at the top of their game: compete in another sport.
Michael Jordan played on the Chicago White Sox for a season, and both Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders switched between the football gridiron and the baseball diamond.
What separates Jakubowicz from the crowd is that she actually excels at playing both of her sports, basketball and soccer.
At 6 feet 1 inch, Jakubowicz played for the Owls’ women’s basketball team for four consecutive seasons.
She was key in the team’s championship in the Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament last year, and was responsible for breaking the 56-56 tie in the championship game with 50.8 seconds remaining in the game.
Because of her tremendous performance last season, she was named the Most Improved Player on the team.
She averaged 7.7 points and 5.5 rebounds her senior season.
So why go from a sport where players can only use their hands to a sport where players can only use their feet?
“I knew I would have to take a fifth-year of school,” Jakubowicz explained.
“My major is elementary education and student teaching was hard to work into my schedule with basketball. I had to adjust my academic schedule around basketball. Soccer’s only from August to November,” she said.
“Basketball was basically September to April. It was practice everyday and we traveled a lot so it was a lot more demanding time-wise.”
Jakubowicz actually played soccer before playing basketball.
She began at the age of five, and continued to play throughout high school.
She earned All-Catholic honors at Conwell-Egan High School as a sophomore, junior and senior.
Head coach Seamus McWilliams had no bias when Jakubowicz stepped onto the field during preseason.
There was no guarantee the she would be put on the team just because of her past athletic history.
“When we brought her in preseason there was no preconceived notions in terms of her making the team and winning a starting position,” McWilliams said.
“She earned that herself.”
His decision to give her a roster spot has given the team a new dynamic that he is very excited about.
“I just love everything about this kid, from the minute she arrives to the minute she leaves,” McWilliams said.
“She’s a consummate athlete. Every second she’s out there she gives you everything she has. I wish I had her for four years.”
The transition from basketball back to soccer wasn’t an easy one, however.
The training to prepare for the season consisted of strenuous amounts of long distance running, but at times even that couldn’t replicate the real leg work during a game.
“You can’t really prepare for a game running…in any sport,” Jakubowicz said.
“My position is center-half so you have to be everywhere on the field.”
However, when you’re 6’1″, sometimes you don’t have to run after the ball, you can let it come to you.
On any Owls cornerkick, Jakubowicz is always right in front of the net, drawing in as many defenders as she can, thus clearing space for the rest of the offensive line to score.
“We’re making her an attractive nuisance,” McWilliams said.
“We’re denying the goal keeper vision. Lisa’s there to create an opportunity for us.”
Jakubowicz’s only goal this season did not come from a cornerkick, however.
She scored the first of two goals in the Owls’ shutout victory over St. Francis on Sept. 22.
Steve Papurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.