When the Jenna Johnson Memorial Foundation first decided to host a 3-on-3 soccer shootout, it wasn’t exactly sure what the interest level would be.
But as family and friends of the former Lyons Township soccer player stood and watched the inaugural event this past weekend in Countryside, it didn’t take long for them to realize the shootout was a huge success.
“It was a great day and a great experience for everyone involved,” said Lyons assistant girls soccer coach Andy Newcomb, who was Johnson’s head coach her senior year in 2001. “I can’t say enough about the support we received from everyone at the school and all the volunteers.”
Johnson led the Lions to the girls soccer state finals in 2000, and also helped the Libertyville-based Eclipse Soccer Club capture numerous U.S. Youth Soccer championships. But her life came to unexpected halt in Dec. 2005 when she died in Los Angeles while training for a marathon to benefit AIDS research. She was 22 years old.
“We want to keep Jenna’s impact and memory alive, and this is just one of the events that help us do that,” Newcomb said.
More than 50 teams participated in the first annual shootout. All proceeds benefit the foundation, which was created to maintain a scholarship for a Lyons girls soccer player each year. Jackie Hanson, who helped lead the Lions to four consecutive Class AA state berths, received the first scholarship last year. She will be attending Ohio University this fall to continue her soccer career.
“Our goal was to raise $20,000,” Newcomb said. “Most people who were out there said they couldn’t believe this was our first year, because everything ran so smooth. It was a perfect day weather wise, too.”
The 3-on-3 shootout was a part of the national ‘Kick-It Soccer Shootout.’ Qualifying winning teams will have an opportunity to participate in the World Championships in January at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.
“We started the first game at 9 a.m. and finished at 6:06 p.m.,” Newcomb said. “It was a long day, but it was well worth it for everyone. We’re excited about the future, because we think this is an event that will continue to grow.”
During her four-year varsity career at Lyons, Johnson recorded 66 goals and 59 assists playing in the midfield. In 2000, she scored 26 goals and handed out 18 assists to help the Lions advance to the state finals.
Johnson continued her soccer career at Miami (Fla.). After graduating from Miami in 2004 with a double major in Motion Pictures and English, Johnson moved to Los Angeles and was hired as a production assistant for the George Lopez Show.
“We’re going to have an indoor 3-on-3 shootout the day after Thanksgiving at The Max in McCook,” Newcomb said. “I’m just really thankful for everything we were able to raise with this event and all the help from everyone. Without the help, this and any of our future events wouldn’t be possible.”
Additional information regarding the 3-on-3 shootouts may be obtained by visiting jennajohnson.org.