Already passionate about the sport of soccer when she arrived as a student, Jordan Bamberger ’09 found another passion on the Wittenberg University campus – helping others.
Her desire to help others has since led to a unique and impactful career as a counselor at an alternative high school in rural Colorado. Her soccer knowledge has also come in handy, as the former Wittenberg goalkeeper organizes an unconventional soccer team to compete in a local recreational league, providing an important outlet for her students at Red Canyon High School and creating a fun way for the school’s staff members to interact with them outside the classroom.
“The unwavering support of the Wittenberg coaches, training staff, and teammates (and, of course, my family) taught me about persistent loyalty and about the importance and benefit of having a strong, health community to lean into in times of adversity,” said Bamberger, who overcame a horrific knee injury during her collegiate career to earn second-team All-North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) honors as a senior in 2008. “That is the reason I wanted to start a soccer team.”
The team got its start in October 2019, composed of students who were at least 17 years of age and had a wide range of skill and experience. The team was the first ever at Red Canyon, and there were some rough days in terms of wins and losses, even as other staff members turned out to supplement the team’s roster.
Bamberger says winning trophies has never been the goal.
“We have adopted a ‘more the merrier’ mentality and extended the invitation to former students, graduates, students who are in our online program, students who are in our high school equivalency program, and students who have, for whatever reason, had to drop out of our high school,” Bamberger said. “It’s a community and a touch point that is ever-evolving and growing.
“We started off taking some big losses but have settled in and become more comfortable. As the team doors are always open, students are constantly learning how to play with those they may not know as well, which speaks highly to their ability to adapt and be resilient. This league is an opportunity to learn about camaraderie, sportsmanship, and losing with grace.”
Red Canyon has two campuses in Eagle County, Colorado. The alternative high school has a mission statement that reads, “RCHS is a community centered around meeting the diverse needs of our students in order to develop individuals who are: respectful, community-minded, hopeful, and self-aware.”Bamberger says Wittenberg prepared her well to made an impact on the young people she encounters at Red Canyon. In addition to what she describes as “an incredible experience playing soccer under (then-Head Coach) Norm Riker and my goalkeeper coach, Tom Esler, for four years,” Bamberger is appreciative of the faculty members in the Departments of Psychology and Biology who helped steer her toward the field.