Oct. 7, 2011
Auburn junior midfielder Jessica Rightmer has made an impact for the Auburn soccer team since the beginning of her career. Last year, when she earned her first start of her career against UW-Milwaukee, the 5-foot, 1-inch Texan scored her first career goal in the 26th minute. Rightmer has always had a competitive side to her that she got from her father, Charles, who was a gymnast for the United States Air Force Academy.
"I think I got my competitiveness from my dad," Rightmer said. "His competitiveness has inspired our entire family to compete in intercollegiate sports. Both of my parents are very completive, so I definitely inherited that from them. My mom didn't play sports, but she is competitive in everything that we do."
One of the hardest things for Rightmer has been being so far from home. With her family living 14 hours away in Austin, Texas, Rightmer has had trouble not being able to see them, but her teammates have helped her out immensely.
"It is hard. It is really hard," Rightmer said. "I have all of my cousins, grandparents and the rest of my family in Texas. It is hard, but my family makes an effort to come visit me. I stay in close contact with them on the phone. It has been hard, but my teammates have really helped and have pulled me through that."
In fact, team camaraderie was the main reason why Rightmer left the Lone Star State to come to the Plains.
"The atmosphere and people here made it feel really comfortable even though I didn't really know anybody," Rightmer claimed. "Compared to the other SEC schools I visited, I just felt that the coaches really cared about us, and I felt really comfortable and well taken care of here."
Rightmer has been just a successful in the classroom as she has on the field. The two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member has also been named a Top Tiger and plans to graduate next summer, before her senior season.
"School is really important to me," she said. "I am getting my undergrad in communication disorders and I plan on graduating next summer. After that, I will apply to the audiology school here. I should be in audiology school next year in my final year of soccer."
Being an audiologist isn't something Rightmer had planned on becoming until she arrived at Auburn. Rightmer ended up taking a career development course, where she figured out that she wanted to do something with communication disorders.
"I took a career development class here my freshman year and that got me interested in speech pathology," said Rightmer. "That undergraduate degree goes towards audiology or speech pathology and in the course of being in the major, I changed my mind. I liked how audiology is more structured than speech pathology."
Balancing school and soccer has been a challenge for Rightmer, especially during her freshman year. However, the junior has been able to manage her time as her career has progressed.
"It was really hard for me freshman year," she said. "I felt like I had no time for anything extra. No time for movies on the weekends or having fun. I have gotten a lot better with time management since I have gotten here. I am still a little bit stressed out balancing the two, but I have gotten a lot more used to it. As long as I have my day planned out ahead of time, then I don't have trouble balancing them."
Although she has been named to all-tournament teams, assisted and scored game winners, Rightmer's favorite memory on the Plains came last year against arch-rival Alabama. With their season on the line, the Tigers scored the game-tying goal with 17 seconds left in regulation before winning in overtime to win the SEC West.
"My favorite memory so far was when we defeated Alabama last year," claimed Rightmer. "It was Coach Hoppa's 200th win and we scored in the last 17 seconds. It was not only a good win for us, because of the rivalry, but also it was also nice to win for our coach."
by Evan Roberts, Auburn Media Relations
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