Knox Memorial grad to join SUNY Potsdam Hall of Fame Saturday as record-setting soccer standout
POTSDAM – Russell native Jodi Ziemba will be the first woman's soccer player to be inducted into the 130-member SUNY Potsdam Sports Hall of Fame Saturday, July 12, at the Knowles Conference Center.
"I didn't realize that," said a humbled Ziemba, of being the first women's soccer player inducted into the SUNY Potsdam Sports Hall of Fame. "It is a great honor to be the first. I was shocked when [Athletic Director] Jim [Zalacca] gave me the call. There were--and are--many great soccer players out there so hopefully I'm not the last."
Ziemba, who graduated in 2005, is not one to brag about her statistical totals during her four years as a standout player from 2001-2005. Instead, she'll likely talk about the camaraderie that she gained with her teammates on the field, the tiring drills that then Coach Lauren Bruce put in place to push her to the limit and her "just do it" mentality on the field that propelled her to become the Bears' all-time leading scorer.
Ziemba’s her 13 goals in a single season remains the standard to pass in the SUNYAC. Her 45 goals and 12 assists for 102 points is the most that any women's soccer player donning a Potsdam jersey has recorded during her career.
She didn't begin playing on a regular basis until seventh grade at Edward Knox Central. Her father coached her in modified leagues and on the junior varsity team. Taking quickly to the sport, she was pulled up to varsity and solidified a roster spot for a playoff run in ninth grade and then proceeded to play her first full varsity season as a sophomore.
Utilizing her speed and ball skills, Ziemba became a go-to-scorer and instant game changer who had to be accounted for each time she stepped onto the field.
Upon graduation, she wanted to stay local. She applied to both Plattsburgh State and SUNY Potsdam, but chose to become a Bear with closeness to home on her mind.
The most honored player since SUNY Potsdam women’s varsity soccer began in 1988, she was a three-time SUNYAC selection (First Team in 2001, and a Second Team selection in 2002 and 2003) to go with her top rookie status in the SUNYAC as a freshman. She played 66 games for the team in her four year career.
She had three different coaches, but Lauren Bruce, now Potsdam's women's lacrosse coach, would teach her for the longest stretch during her middle two years as a sophomore and junior on the squad.
"I got in the best shape of my life," Ziemba said of playing at SUNY Potsdam under Bruce.
"I remember that very vividly. Coach Bruce would have us run 12 120s where you had to sprint the length of the soccer field and then had to jog back within 60 seconds. There was the beep pass , where you had to sprint to one side of the field before a timer went off, and lots of plyometric work."
One game in particular, Ziemba holds one as of her favorite memories. On September 16, 2003, Potsdam defeated Clarkson University 2-1 in double overtime on the Knight's field in the 110th minute on a game-winning goal by Ziemba.
"The game where we beat Clarkson in overtime in the last minute," responded Ziemba almost immediately when asked what game she remembers the most fondly. "The rivalry between Potsdam and Clarkson had always been there and they had a better record that season. I had a breakaway and scored. I think it was the only time we beat them in my four years."
After graduation, Ziemba moved to Alameda, Calif. in 2008. Ziemba returned to New York State in 2011 and was the graduate assistant coach for Ithaca College's national semifinalists squad in 2011.
She earned her masters' degree in health promotion and education from the college in 2012.
Now, back in California, she works as wellness program consultant.
"I actually played better when I didn't overthink it," Ziemba said.
"Once I had the ball, my mind kind of went blank especially if it was a one-on-one situation with the goalie. Once I'm on the field and with the ball, everything just goes. I never thought about it too much. Of course, you shouldn't try to dribble through a bunch of defenders. But, I knew what I had to do once I got the ball. It never really crossed my mind that I would in line for it[a Hall of Fame induction]."