Monmouth-Bound Jillian Conklin Leads Toms River East

When Jillian Conklin arrived at Toms River East, she immediately caught the eye of varsity girls soccer head coach Mike Nichol.

“She came in as a freshman that summer and looked great,” Nichol said. “She did a scrimmage at the freshman level and one at the JV level. We had her for our last varsity scrimmage and it was pretty apparent that she was a great player and could make a contribution right away.

“After she played that varsity scrimmage her freshman year, we had practice the following day. She went with the other freshman and the JV players and we were kind of split on two sides of the field. I called her and another player over and I told them I was going to keep them on varsity and they both looked stunned.”

Ever since then, Conklin has been the heart and soul of the Toms River East girls soccer team. The senior leads the Raiders in both goals (31) and assists (9) and will attend Monmouth University next fall to continue her soccer career.

“She has the ability to score goals and always seems to find her way to get in front of the goal,” Nichol said. “She is really close with her family and I am sure they will be at every Monmouth game.”

Conklin has amassed 70 goals and 29 assists over her career, despite missing most of her junior year. It was during this time that Nichol noticed something at one practice he hasn’t seen before from a player.

“Her ability to lead by example is amazing, and I’m not making things up here. She’s one of the hardest working people I’ve met,” Nichol said. “Last year, she had a bout with mono and she couldn’t play or participate in contact practice. She was cleared to come to practice and hang out and she’s on the sidelines doing sprints the whole time, because she wanted to be ready for that first game back. That to me certainly says a lot about her.”

Nichol has enjoyed watching Conklin grow over the past four years as a player and a person.

“She is certainly humble, which is awesome,” Nichol said. “She was a little quiet and shy early on, but with experience and her time on the team, she has really grown into that leader role. She leads by example with her confidence and she makes everybody else play better. Going from this quiet freshman to one of the loudest, most confident players out there has been really fun for us to watch.”

 

 

 

 

 

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