Joelle Jung scores her way to Stanford University

Neha Ayyer

From a young age, senior Joelle Jung has been surrounded by soccer. Her father grew up in Brazil, where soccer is the most popular sport, and her two older sisters also play soccer. After dedicating more than 10 years of her life to the sport, Jung will play for Stanford University’s women’s soccer team starting in January 2023.

Before the age of seven, when Jung lived in San Francisco, she tried many different sports — including tennis, swim and gymnastics — but eventually laid her focus on soccer. 

“I was especially good with my feet and it was easy for me to pick up the rules of soccer,” Jung said. “I liked dribbling, scoring, playing with a team and being able to connect on the field.”

At eight years old, she moved to San Jose and joined the Mountain View Los Altos Soccer Club. While practicing with her age group’s team, a coach from the team of the older age group saw Jung’s potential and invited her to play for their team. Jung has since been playing with and against players who are one year older than her. 

“Joelle is able to do things that no other player is able to,” Jung’s teammate Mia Steadman said. “She’s really fast and sees passes before they happen, which makes her impossible to defend when playing.”

Throughout eighth and ninth grade, Jung traveled to national soccer camps for the girls’ youth national team. In 2019, Jung was selected for the International Champions Cup, an annual soccer exhibition tournament that brings top youth athletes to worldwide fans. Having scored the greatest number of goals throughout the tournament, Jung won the Golden Boot, one of her most notable achievements as a soccer player. 

Jung’s team played in the Elite Clubs National League, the most prestigious soccer league in the U.S. known for supporting player development and hosting national games and college showcases. Jung’s team has been national champions twice, in 2018 and 2021, and were finalists of the national championship title in 2019. 

“In soccer, your individual and team achievements go hand-in-hand,” Jung said. “I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I’ve had without my team or coach.” 

While Jung puts a lot of effort into her soccer career, she makes sure to include her academic life into her schedule as well. To Jung, a consistent schedule to plan out the slots of time she has to do work and taking breaks, even if it’s just for five minutes, helps her navigate her academic and athletic lifestyles. 

“It’s like a give-and-take relationship,” Jung said. “If I need to study for a test, then that takes time out of practicing or sleeping and vice-versa. I’ve learned to use any moment of my day to complete something that I know I won’t have time for later.”

Jung verbally committed to Stanford in eighth grade, before the National Collegiate Athletic Association changed its rules preventing coaches from contacting athletes before their junior year. Jung continued her communication with Stanford’s head coach at the end of her sophomore year. In 2022, Stanford officially started allowing its athletes to start school one semester early. Due to the athletic and academic benefits, Jung decided to graduate from Lynbrook in December 2022 to start attending Stanford in January 2023. This allows her to meet her team earlier and mark off a few academic credits before the soccer season starts in the fall. She plans to major in a STEM-related field while also prioritizing soccer. 

“I’m really excited to be able to interact with my new team because some of my old MVLA teammates are already on the team,” Jung said. 

Jung hopes to become a professional soccer player in the future. Even if she doesn’t reach the professional level, soccer will be a part of her life, as she continues playing with her friends and family.

“Soccer has helped me connect with people from across the country, but it’s also an outlet for me to relieve stress,” Jung said. “Soccer has been a part of my life for so long that I don’t know what life would be like without it.”