By: Monty Mosher
They were best friends and soccer teammates growing up in Langley. B.C.
But there came a point three years ago when Jessica Hunt and Lauren Jodrey had to part.
Jodrey was moving back to Hammonds Plains with her family. Her father, Rob, was a former soccer player at Acadia and was returning to Nova Scotia for a new job. The family had other relatives in the province.
And that might easily have been that. The two friends lived 4,500 kilometres apart with neither certain of university plans.
But they didn't drift apart. They talked and stayed connected on social media.
Jodrey was the first to decide that she would attend Acadia and make a commitment to the Axewomen soccer program. Then she went to work on her friend.
"I always mentioned that I really wanted to go to Acadia and then I ended up committing to go here and then I was pushing it on her," she said. "I told her, 'You have to come, you have to come.' She came out and visited a year ago and absolutely loved it. Then she was set on coming."
Hunt hadn't made any decision for herself when Jodrey starting promoting Acadia to her. Eventually Acadia coach Amit Batra saw her play and invited her out for a recruiting visit.
"As soon as a I came for a visit here it was a no-brainer," said Hunt.
Might become roommates
They are both 18, living down the hall from one another in Wolfville. They aren't roommates yet but they might be next year.
In a group of eight rookies on the Axewomen, both played in the team's first two regular-season games on the weekend, both wins. Hunt, a midfielder and the former captain of the Surrey under-18 team, had her first varsity goal.
Jodrey is a defender. She was a captain of the C.P. Allen Cheetahs in high school, a national medallist with Suburban FC and an alternate on the N.S. Canada Games in 2017.
The Axewomen recorded two shutouts, defeating Mount Allison 4-0 and Saint Mary's 6-0. They will play Moncton and Memorial in Wolfville this weekend.
Hunt and Jodrey became friends when they began playing soccer together in Grade 6. Later, they attended the same school.
"It's nice having her around because out of all the people I knew back in B.C. Jess is probably the person I kept in contact with the most," said Jodrey. "It's kind of neat that we ended up meeting up at the end of school and I definitely wouldn't have expected it."
'Scary at first'
Jodrey had some family in Nova Scotia, but Hunt was completely new to the province.
"It was a little scary at first," she said, "but then obviously it helped having L.J. here. It was kind of like a bit of home with me."
Batra had identified Jodrey a long time ago.
"She's a true centre-back who can dominate in the air and clear danger, but she's added so much to her game, so the credit goes to Lauren because she was always good but she just keeps improving every year," he said.
As for Hunt, he said: "Jessica is exactly the type of student-athlete we want to recruit to Acadia on and off the field. When she's on the pitch she plays with a great sense of awareness, provides good supporting angles for teammates and looks to win the ball.
"When she is on the ball she's very deceptive and creative which is exactly what you are looking for in a midfielder. I think her ceiling is really high."
Stepping into the Axewomen program has helped ease the transition for both players.
"Everyone here is so close-knit," said Hunt. "They are like a big family and super welcoming so I don't feel out of place. Knowing that I already had a group of people that I could gel with was reassuring."
Got to know teammates
Jodrey played senior soccer for Valley United with several of her Acadia teammates this summer.
"Even just meeting a couple of them, I knew I was going to the right school," she said. "You come in and their arms are already open. They help you out no matter what.
"You already have 24-25 best friends here already. You don't have to worry about making new friends or anything like that, which is kind of nice."
Hunt said her family will come to visit her in October is contemplating a move to Nova Scotia in time for next season.
Jodrey is studying political science while Hunt is focusing on psychology.
Getting into game action right out of the gate has been an added bonus for both of them.
"It's sweet, actually," said Jodrey.
Team quick to mesh
Batra said Jodrey and Hunt, along with all the rookies, fit in with the returning players right away.
"It's like they were always here and they all know each other. It speaks to them, and to the leaders we have on the team, that we've had a big change due to so many graduating players and yet the chemistry on the team is as strong as it has ever been.
"From outside you wouldn't be able to pick these two out for their bond because they are already so integrated. But when Jessica scored her first goal in her debut it was L.J. who gave her the biggest hug. Twice."
Acadia was a conference finalist a year ago, losing 2-1 to Cape Breton for the banner in Antigonish. Cape Breton will host this year's tournament Nov. 1-4.