There have been so many successful stories recently of Legacy players and this one is no different. Jalon Brown, senior at Christopher Newport University, has been lighting up the headlines all season long with records broken and titles earned. Recently the Captains of CNU lost in penalty kicks of the “Elite Eight” during the Division III NCAA Tournament. This game was special to the Captains who trailed 2-0 with 5 minutes left before they came back to equalize, thus forcing the game into penalty kicks. This was the furthest the Captains had ever reached in the national tournament, and the fourth time CNU had seen the quarterfinals. The Captains ended the season 19-3-5.
This Season Jalon led the Captains by starting all 27 games for the captains, netting 20 goals, and aided his teammates with 7 assists. In his senior year, Brown broke two records; career all time points record and the career all time goals scored record. As if this wasn’t enough for Brown, Jalon received All-American honors for the third consecutive year.
All of this success hasn’t gone to the young man’s head. Recently Jalon was asked if he’d like to talk to the Legacy about his path to these amazing feats as well as answer a few questions the Legacy enjoys asking. Here is what he said:
1. What has helped you prepare the most over the years for collegiate soccer?
“Honestly I think everything that I do boils down to being competitive and having a passion for the game. I love soccer, I love everything about it. I think that helps me in the off-season to stay focused and keep playing and training because, well, I want to. I want to play so badly that I'll do it even if I'm alone, I don't mind going out to a local soccer field by myself with some soccer balls and doing stuff on my own. And then when I'm doing anything with someone else I'm so competitive that I'll try to do anything to win, if that means I have to run harder then so be it, or do more sit ups then I will do it because I want to win. So because of those things I find myself not even noticing that I'm getting a good workout or that I'm getting better foot skills or any of those things, I'm just doing what I love to do because I love to do it. That has really helped, almost without me even realizing it, to prepare for collegiate level soccer.”
2. What could you have done differently in the past that would have made your path to collegiate soccer easier?
“I think probably asking more questions or being more concerned about it earlier in my career would've helped me a lot. When I was younger (from when I first started to about 15 or 16 years old) soccer was just a fun game for me and I got to hang out with friends that I liked. It wasn't until our u15 or u16 year that I got pretty serious about it. If I had stayed focused during practices or listened more or asked more questions and been proactive in my growth as a player at a younger age that would have made my path to college soccer much easier.”
3. What has been your biggest success?
“As far as team success I would have to say going into our conference tournament as the 2nd to last seed, winning the whole thing and then going on to win the next 3 NCAA tournament games (one of which was when we were down 2-0) and then in the elite 8, being down 0-2 with 5 minutes left and coming back to tie the game with 47 seconds left 2-2 and send the game all the way into a penalty kick shootout. Even though we lost the shootout, we won our conference tournament and made an amazing run in the NCAA tournament that I will never forget.
As far as personal successes, being able to break the all time points and all time goals records at CNU are probably the biggest two. It was truly something special that I was fortunate enough to be able to accomplish and I can honestly say I couldn't have done it without all of my teammates and coaches.”
4. What has been your biggest failure?
“My biggest failure is probably from my junior year. We were in the conference semifinals against York College (who were ranked in the top 10 in the nation at the time) and we were winning 2-0 with 10 minutes left and they had a red card. We let them get all the way back into the game and tie it at 2-2 and send it all the way to penalty kicks. I was the first kick taker and I hit a bad penalty. The goalie saved it and from then we went on to lose the shootout. I felt like I set a bad start to the shootout and I put a lot of that loss on myself, and again just like the successes it's probably something I will never forget.”
5. Who have your idols been growing up and for what reason?
“I definitely had a few guys growing up that I really looked up to. I'll start with DaMarcus Beasley, I was about 10 years old and we were visiting family in Indiana and one of my cousins said "oh yeah DaMarcus? He always plays just down the road at an indoor place during Christmas, he's probably there now" so we went down just to see if he was there and sure enough we got to meet him, we spoke with him for a little and even played with him briefly. From then on I loved him, he was by far my favorite US soccer player! Aside from celebrities, the older guys in the club were huge role models for me as a young player. My coach always encouraged us to go see his older team play and we did. We would sit and watch them play their games and saw how hard they played and how they conducted themselves and we learned a lot from them. They won championships and we wanted to be like them so we tried to do what they did.”
6. Is there any one story that stands out about this championship season?
“We really had so many memorable storybook games this season, it's really hard to choose just one. I guess if I had to choose I would pick the last game we played at home. We got to host the NCAA tournament 1st and 2nd rounds. After winning the first game we found ourselves playing Stevens Institute of Technology. We knew they were good and they had knocked CNU out of the tournament in the past so we were a little bit excited, but we weren't ready. Coming into the game we were flat, playing poorly and it showed. Before we even knew it they were up 2-0 on us and we were looking at an early exit from the tournament again. Come halftime, one of our captains Alec Faulkner (who is also a great success story that came from legacy) really laid into us. He screamed at all of us and I'll save you a few details but basically he said this is embarrassing, we need to do something right now or we are going to get embarrassed on our home field. So the coaches made the decision to change the formation to a 3-4-3 for the second half and we came out of the gates flying. At the start we were really pressing to get an early goal and boom about 5 minutes in I served a ball in and we scored off of a great header. We continued the pressure, and about 10 more minutes pass and we get a corner. It gets played in and bounces around in the box until one of our forwards smashes it into the goal and now we were tied 2-2. At this point the fans are going nuts because they can sense the momentum and we have a ton of local kids there who love to watch us along with alumni everywhere starting cheers and screaming their heads off. After about 5 more minutes of pressure we find ourselves in their box again and a ball pops out to the top of the box. One of our freshmen gets ahold of it and flicks it back to another freshman who had not scored a goal all year. Nonetheless he fires the ball through the crowd and after taking a couple deflections we all watch it go in and we go crazy! Just over 20 minutes ago it was 2-0 and now it's 3-2! After that we switched back to the usual 4-4-2 to try to just see out the win. At that point Stevens began throwing everything they had at us. Shot after shot was blocked or saved and we were just defending for our lives until with about two minutes left I got the ball in their half and was given a little space to run. I found our other forward and gave him the ball, then he gave it right back, then he made a great run and I played him what I thought was a through ball and just continued my run like we are always taught to do. But it turned out that their defenders were able to get just close enough that he didn't feel comfortable so he pulled it back and because I continued my run I was wide open. He graciously passed it one last time and I was one on one with the goalie. Just a simple light pass beyond the goalie and I watched it go in. As I turned towards the sideline the place literally erupted. I took my shirt off, waved it in circles and sprinted towards the fans screaming and some of the players had come to join me. After a knee slide into the swarm of people all I could hear was one person, Alec Faulkner. All I could hear was him in my ear screaming "I freaking love you! You just won us the game!" With that goal the comeback was officially complete and we went on to see out the final two minutes and win the game. It was the single most exciting game I have ever been a part of and there is almost no way to describe the feeling after that game.”
7. Are there any words of inspiration you could pass down to our current Legacy players?
“The best advice I could give the current legacy players is to just be passionate in whatever you are doing. If you're the forward, be excited to score goals and have the courage and confidence to try new things because doing whatever it takes or being passionate sometimes means trying new things. If you're a defender take each individual battle as a challenge. Take it personally, be passionate about the fact that no matter what, they will not get past you. If you're the goalie, it's sort of the same thing, think of it as though you are there because you are the most likely to save the team in a last chance situation. You are the one they call upon to save them so be passionate about the fact that no matter what, the ball will not go in that goal. Finally if you are a midfielder, know that you are the engine that keeps the team going. You work so hard every game for the team offensively and defensively and be passionate about that fact. No matter what it is that you do on the field, be passionate about it and take pride in it and you will reap the benefits. Most importantly, when you fail (because you will fail) you CANNOT get down on yourself. Think of that instance as a fluke and that the real you is the one who does it right and the next time the opportunity comes, you will show everyone that!”
It’s great to see that despite so much personal success, Jalon continues to piece together his memories around what role he played for his team. The Legacy appreciates all of your hard work and sacrifice. Congratulations Jalon, and good luck to you in the future and see you this summer with Legacy 76 NPSL.