Student among elite players
Only 37 students are on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) team, and Seminole County’s Jordan Stewart is one of them. He only had to re-break his school’s scoring records and score a 4.42 GPA in the classroom to get on the squad, which only found one player in the entire state that fit its lofty criteria.
But Jordan may be the only player on that list who has never attended another school in his entire life. The tiny Geneva School, tucked off to the side of State Road 436 just north of where Casselberry spills into Orange County, doesn’t have many students. Only 192 are in grades 6-12, leaving a small pool of players to choose from for sports. Jordan, now a senior, has been there since kindergarten.
In such an unlikely sporting mecca, Jordan has emerged as a devastating scorer on the school’s soccer field. This season the team has played 16 games so far and scored 68 goals, 36 of which came off Jordan’s foot. Not yet finished with his senior year, he’s already broken the school’s scoring record, set just last season — by Jordan.
After already holding two school records before his senior season, he still wasn’t satisfied, even as he was being pursued by double and triple teams on the field trying to keep him from setting new milestones.
“I think it’s having confidence in your ability,” said Stewart when asked how he plays through the adversity that he faces on the field. “You have to stay humble and always be willing to learn.”
For Stewart, hard work goes without saying. But two years ago his perseverance was tested for the first time by an opponent he couldn’t see.
In Jordan’s sophomore year, it wasn’t a slide tackle that sidelined him, but an unexpected illness that took him out of the game. Doctors couldn’t find an explanation for it, but it kept him in bed, and on the bench, for four months. Stewart said those months, and the recovery from the illness, was the biggest challenge he’s had to overcome. As a result, he studied all summer to make up the schoolwork that he missed in his absence. Jordan finished just in time to progress to his junior year.
“Physically, it took a long time for me to get back in soccer shape,” Stewart said. “This season has been really nice for me because it’s been my first healthy year in a couple of years.”
Armed with that level of perspective, he emerged from his illness more disciplined, tougher. He was named a captain his junior year — an honor rarely reserved for non-seniors. He takes his responsibilities seriously instead of taking his opportunities for granted, said Coach Mike McAvoy.
“With his skill level and ability, it’s actually both on and off the field,” McAvoy said. “He’s a leader during practice, pre-game warm-ups, even here at the school.”
McAvoy said that Jordan is the coach on the field, and that he continuously leads his team and does whatever is asked of him. Senior year, naturally, he won his title as captain again. Now with a 13-2-1 record heading toward the postseason, and a rare national honor under his belt, he still plays the humble role of a team player.
Despite being the first player at The Geneva School to win a spot on the NSCAA academic team, he makes it known that his success is reciprocal; it comes from helping his teammates, and his teammates helping him.
“He’s a role model to the younger kids,” said McAvoy. “His tireless effort on and off the field, his time management of being able to conduct both [academics and athletics] makes him a special player.”