Jackson doing big things in goal for Freeport before moving on to the Big Ten

High School Sports

FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) –The Stateline produces a lot of soccer players every year.  Now and then someone special comes along who separates himself or herself from the pack. Freeport has one of those special players.

You’ll find her in goal. She’s senior Naomi Jackson. She’s been Freeport’s varsity goalkeeper since her freshman year. She began developing her skills at a young age.

“It all started with the Freeport Fire,” said Jackson. “It was just our local club and then once that ended and we got too old we got a call from the Rockford Raptors that they needed a goalie and it just took off from there.”

She wasn’t always a goalkeeper.

“I was a forward when I was younger, but then I grew above everybody else, so they were like, ‘Yea, you should be in goal.”

What a job she has done in goal so far this season. The Pretzels are 5-0 and all five wins have been by shutout. The latest came Tuesday night a 1-nil win over Hononegah.

“I’ve coached for 25 years and she’s the best I’ve seen,” said Freeport varsity girls soccer coach Nick Namio. “I get to see her in practice every single day and we just are in awe every day of some of the saves she makes.”

Athletic ability runs in the Jackson family. Jackson’s father Tee Jay is Freeport’s varsity boys basketball coach. He played basketball professionally overseas and with the old Rockford Lightning CBA franchise. Jackson’s mother also participated in sports.

Next year Jackson will be competing in the Big Ten for the Fighting Illini. She still pinches herself sometimes finding that hard to believe.

“100 percent yes. That’s 100 percent how I feel,” said Jackson. “It just, it’s kind of like a surreal kind of moment in my brain to think I’m really going to be playing D-1 soccer. That’s a great opportunity.”

“I think she’ll be there right away and make a big difference,” said Namio. “I think whatever happens after college is over I think we’ll still be watching her play in bigger stadiums after that.”

Before all of that Jackson has another goal she wants to capture…a NIC-10 championship.

“That’s something I’d love to win. We tied, I think it was my freshman year, that we tied, but I would just love to be able to take this plaque home and just be able to call it ours.”

Jackson and Freeport will host Jefferson Thursday evening.

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