Two former members of the University of Akron women’s soccer program have found success in their post-collegiate careers in the professional ranks, as they begin their first year in professional soccer in Germany.
Jordan Clark and Kara Cooper were teammates on the Zips soccer team in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Clark joined the Akron roster as a freshman in 2007, while Cooper transferred into Akron in 2010. Clark and Cooper were able to be teammates in 2010 and 2011 due to a knee injury sustained by Clark, which forced her to redshirt her 2008 season.
“Each of these fine young women came into the program under Coach Pfau as aspiring young recruits hoping to make an impact on a Division I program. They grew and developed tremendously over their four years under his tutelage which helped prepare them for this opportunity at the next level,” Head Coach Vernon Croft said.
Croft continued, “I was fortunate enough to spend more time with Jordan over the past year to help develop her tactical thinking from the standpoint of a coach and to talk about some of the transitions mentally from one level to the next.”
A mark on the Akron women’s soccer record book was left when Clark finished her career as a Zip. She holds the record for most career match appearances with 76, while starting in 67 of those appearances. Clark also ranks in the top-10 in UA women’s soccer history in career goals, assists, and points.
In 2011, Clark was named a second team All-Mid American Conference (MAC) selection, as she led the team with four assists. She also earned Academic All-MAC honors in the 2011 season.
“I’ve made so many great memories through my years at Akron including breaking conference records for our program and competing against some of the bigger names in the country,” Clark said reflecting on her time at UA. “However, I would have to say that my most memorable moment as a Zip was probably defeating The University of Michigan on their home field to start off the season.”
Cooper transferred to Akron from Youngstown State University, where she played her sophomore and junior seasons. In 2010, Cooper started 12 matches and appeared in 15 overall matches. She was depended upon a lot on defense, as she stayed on the pitch for the entirety of eight matches that season.
The 2011 season was just as fruitful for Cooper. She started 14 matches, and appeared in 18 matches overall. She registered her first career goal with the Zips with her lone shot of the season against Ball State on Oct. 7, 2011.
“Akron taught me and gave me the tools to succeed both on and off the field … it’s part of the reason why I am where I am today,” Cooper said when asked about her time at the University of Akron.
Cooper also echoed Clark’s sentiment towards the victory over the University of Michigan in 2011. When asked about her favorite moment as a Zip, Cooper said, “Beating Michigan my senior year; it was such a great game.”
Karlsruhe Sport Club in Karlsruher, Germany is now the home to the former Zips. Clark and Cooper have only been in Germany for a few weeks at this point, and they are enjoying every minute of her experience. The only issue they have come across thus far is the language barrier, which they are trying to learn. However, the pair says, “Many of our teammates are interested in improving their English, so it actually works out that they teach us some German and we help them with their English. We have a good time with it.”
The biggest difference Clark and Cooper have noticed from their transition to the professional lever is the speed and style of play that is utilized on the field. They also mentioned the transition from being a student-athlete to full-time athlete. Clark says she had to change her mindset from college, and put all her focus into the sport. Cooper is enjoying being away from the stress that comes from college courses, and solely focusing on becoming a better soccer player.
“Jordan and Kara have both been very passionate about putting themselves in a p osition to play at the pro level from the moment their careers finished at Akron. This mentality has somewhat prepared them for the next level, but also the training environments they have been in during their time at Akron have prepared them to not only transition from the college game to the pro level, but to find immediate success with their new club. The new experience coupled with their talents and past experiences will certainly allow them to make a mark in the league,” said Croft.
Clark credited Head Coach Vernon Croft and Assistant Coach Keri Sarver with her development as a player and a person. She is also thankful for her former coach Chris Pfau, and the entire support staff within the University of Akron athletics department. According to Clark, her family has been her biggest support system. She said, “Without the support from my amazing mother, grandparents, sister and fiancee I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today.”
Head Coach Croft and Assistant Coach Sarver helped Clark develop an expansive mental strength. She says about her mental strength, “This has allowed me to grow as a person as well as improve my game as a player.”
Cooper also credited the coaching staff with her development as a player. She says, “The coaching staff helped develop me into a versatile player. Because of that I am able to play an array of positions, which makes me more marketable as a player. [Former Head Coach] Chris Pfau took a striker and made a defender out of me.”
When asked if there was anyone she credited for her success, she said, “…the journey that I am on is nothing short of a miracle with two knee surgeries and transferring colleges. I have had so much support from my family and friends that it would be too hard to name everyone. I am so grateful for where I am today. So blessed, it brings tears to my eyes.”
The two teammates are extremely excited to begin their professional careers. They have already had several games along with a tournament. Clark performed exceptionally in the tournament, as she was named MVP of the tournament.
Jordan Clark and Kara Cooper are passionate about their craft on the playing field, and are working hard to improve their own play, while also improving the overall team performance for Karlsruhe SC. Their success on the professional level brings great pride to both the University of Akron women’s soccer program and the Akron athletics department as a whole.
Karlsruhe SC is a member of the Bundesliga in German professional soccer. The club is located Karlsruher, Germany, which is located in southwest Germany near the French border with a population of over 297,000 people.