The River Ridge Middle School girls soccer program has seen its fair share of talent over the years. That was certainly the case this past season as the team just capped off its third straight undefeated season. For the past two seasons a host of players have helped light up the scoreboard for the Lady Knights. However, when Joanna Boivin was in goal the number that always remained the same was a zero for the opponent. That’s right, the Knights starting goalkeeper did not surrender a goal for two consecutive seasons. No goalkeeper in school history, boy or girl, has accomplished such a feat.
Eighth-grader Joanna Boivin is known by “Jo”, or even “Super Jo-Jo”, by her classmates, teammates, and teachers in the halls of River Ridge Middle. Her larger than life personality is something you couldn’t ignore if you tried, and in a good way. It’s that personality which possesses everything you’d look for in the characteristics of goalkeeper. Confidence, attitude, fearlessness, leadership, and a bit of feistiness to top it off, all are evident in Jo. ‘When I first started playing soccer I noticed that the goalie had a very important job, and I wanted that job,” Jo explained. Most would agree that playing goalie is one of the most pressured filled positions in all of sports. “The pressure is what I love most about playing goalie. A great save is just as important as scoring goal, and being a keeper allows you to make several great saves throughout the course of a game. No one on the field can do that except a goalie. It’s a rush…it’s so much fun,” she added, with a raised brow.
Away from River Ridge Jo plays for her club team West Pasco. She’s often asked to play for, and train, with the older U-16 high school players. “I like the challenge of proving myself against older players. That’s how you get better,” she explained. So, how do the high school players feel about a middle school player joining the mix? “I really don’t care, or think about that. When I first started training with them we’d have shooting drills where the coach made each player run if they didn’t score on me. Let’s just say there was a lot of running going on… and the coach had to change that rule pretty quick,” Jo recalled, with a devilish smile. This summer Jo will be taking her skills and swagger to the elite Barcelona Goalkeeper Camp in Orlando.
If you’re wondering if Jo’s success on the soccer field carries over into the classroom- well it does. She’s been on the Honor Roll ever since she set foot on the campus of River Ridge, and carries over a 3.5 grade point average. Jo’s teachers describe her as hard working, energetic, and fun to have in class. Just this past week River Ridge MS/HS hosted the West Pasco Special Olympics. Jo was a student-volunteer who not surprisingly spent her time working with the River Ridge Special Olympic Soccer Team.
Jo won’t be going far next year as she slides right over to River Ridge High School. While she’s excited about all the opportunities high school has to offer, nothing will top defending the net for the Lady Knights in high school. “I am excited. I’ve played with a lot of those players already. They’re good players too, and I know I can help them win a lot of games. I hear they’re waiting for me too… and I plan on being worth the wait.” Coming from Super Jo-Jo… I’d count on it.