Soccer coach Annie Hamel says it’s hard to put into words how much impact Jenna-lee Baxter has had on the women’s team at Simon Fraser University over the past three years.
“The stats speak for themselves, all the accolades,” Hamel said of Baxter, the standout midfielder from Surrey.
“There were so many records broken for the program through Jenna, a lot of firsts and history-making,” Hamel added. “But aside from all that, she’s such an important player on the team just for her personality, too. I can’t recall a player who’s grown as much as Jenna, from her first year until graduation.”
On Tuesday (March 26), during an awards night held at Coquitlam’s Hard Rock Casino, Baxter capped her soccer career at SFU by winning the Lorne Davies Female Athlete of the Year for a team sport.
Baxter became the program’s first ever All-American after leading the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) in points, with a career-high 11 goals and 21 assists in 17 games, helping the team secure their second-ever conference championship berth.
Heading into the awards gala, Baxter “had no idea” she’d won the award, but knew she was nominated.
“It was exciting,” said Baxter, who’ll turn 22 in May and still lives in the Fraser Heights area.
With her playing days done at SFU, she’ll stick around to help Hamel manage the women’s team next season.
“I’m really happy to continue being part of the team,” Baxter said. “Coaching is something that interests me, and I’ve been coaching for a couple years now (with clubs in North Vancouver and Burnaby), just being a positive role model for younger players.”
Upon graduation from secondary school, and after two years with the U18 Whitecaps Girls Elite program, Baxter headed to Oregon State University for a year before returning to play at SFU in 2016.
“I definitely think coming back to SFU was the right decision for me, just because of this team, both on and off the field,” Baxter said. “This team culture, everything about it, has been so positive.”
WSOC | From a Div. I transfer to the 2018 @GNACSports Player of the Year, @jenna_baxter has made her mark at SFU with a little help from her friends.— SFU Clan (@SFUClan) October 30, 2018
Watch Jenna reflect on her career and her hopes for the upcoming GNAC Championship! #RepTheLeaf pic.twitter.com/EcCL7WW89c
Last fall, Baxter was named Player of the Year in the nine-team GNAC after she helped power SFU to a tie for third place – the team’s best conference finish in eight years. For the season, she exploded for 11 goals and 10 assists in 16 games.
Also during SFU’s athletics awards night, hosted by Sportsnet’s Perry Solkowski, the university’s men’s soccer team was named the President’s Team of the Year, and Mamadi Camara was given the Lorne Davies Male Athlete of the Year award for a team sport.
For individual sport competitors, the Lorne Davies Athlete of the Year award for men was given to swimmer Adrian VanderHelm, and wrestler Dominique Parrish and track athlete Addy Townsend were co-winners on the women’s side.