Jayme Trocino has had the time of her life in recent weeks. Never mind that she has had precious little time to herself.
The 5-foot-3 junior forward enjoyed the most prolific offensive season of her life and helped Belmont capture a share of the Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season women’s soccer title.
She also got weeks of practical experience in her field of study — nursing — as she spent long hours daily working at many area hospitals. She often finished just in time to head to practice, after which she completed her studies in time to do it all again the next day.
“I’ve been told that this is the hardest semester of nursing school,” she said. “Unfortunately, it fell in-season.
“Some places they won’t let athletes be in the nursing program because of the time it takes. That’s one of the reasons I’m so thankful to be here. … It can be difficult but my coaches and my teammates have inspired me.”
There was nothing in her performance or that of her team to suggest that the two things need to be mutually exclusive.
The Lady Bruins went 9-5-4 overall but lost just once in conference play (6-1-3) as they shared the regular-season crown with Kennesaw (Ga.) State. They earned a bye for the first round of the conference finals, which began last week.
They will face No. 3 Stetson on Thursday in a semifinal contest at Kennesaw State. The championship game will be played Saturday.
For her part, Trocino had a team-leading 10 goals and 23 points. That was twice the number of goals she scored in the previous two seasons combined and was second among all individuals in the conference.
She also recently was named a CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District, which made her a candidate for Academic All-America honors.
“I’ve never scored this many goals,” she said.
She also had three assists, which meant she had a hand in 13 goals, one more than the Lady Bruins allowed overall. As a team they gave up more than one in just two matches and held nine opponents scoreless.
That ability to defend has had a direct effect on Trocino’s offensive outburst.
“Probably just knowing that she has a lot better players around her is a key for her scoring goals,” coach Lisa Howe said. “We have been able to play a more offensive system this year and that has allowed her to get into the attack more.”
A two-time All-State player for Centennial High School in Franklin, she signed with Belmont at a time when the program was trying to evolve. The Lady Bruins went 4-12-1 in 2005, their first season under Howe, and 7-6-5 overall, but 2-5-2 in conference play, good for eighth in the A-Sun, in 2006.
In 2007 and 2008, Trocino’s first two years in the program, Belmont won twice as many games (26) as it lost (13). Last year it won the conference tournament and earned a spot in the NCAA championship field.
“I definitely knew I wanted to stay close to home,” she said. “Basically, coach Howe instilled a lot of confidence in me that the program was getting a lot better, and I just jumped on board.”
Ever since, she has thrown herself headfirst into her responsibilities — both athletically and academically.
“It’s tiring, but it’s more of a mental battle than a physical one,” she said. “I just have to stay focused on school when I’m in school and on soccer when I’m in soccer. Usually I get it done.”
“It’s been awesome — probably one of the best years I’ve ever had playing soccer.”