MIAMI, OK. — It’s many athletes’ dream to play professionally one day. But, it’s only a reality for a select few. This year, former NEO A&M stand out Jennifer Cudjoe became one of them.
It’s a dream she’s had since she was a teenager.
“Since I was like 13, I’ve always wanted to play professional,” said Cudjoe.
This year, that dream came true for Cudjoe when she earned a spot on the roster for Sky Blue FC in the National Women’s Soccer League.
“I was thinking I was going to try out and see what happens because you don’t know if you’re going to get on to a team or not,” said Cudjoe. “But, I always had faith that this was the time for me.”
That faith and an unwavering belief in herself would play a huge part in her journey.
Cudjoe, originally from Ghana was one of the best players in the country. She was a part of women’s national team and played in the U17 and U20 world cups. She was also named female footballer of the year by the sports writers association of Ghana in 2015.
But in order to reach the next level, she decided to leave behind a stellar career in her own country to pursue her soccer career and her college degree in the united states seven years ago. She ended up in Miami, Oklahoma at NEO A&M.
“I was alone,” said Cudjoe. “My sister was in another state. I was like ‘fine’. So, I came here and it begins. My coach was amazing. I still talk to my coach Lisa Bell. She was amazing. I had some great teammates.”
Cudjoe was named NJCAA player of the year in 2014.
“She was a very talented athlete.” said Bell. “We knew that whenever she was coming in and we built a pretty good team around her, a pretty strong team. We actually had one of our best teams when Jen was here and a lot of that revolves around her leadership on the field.”
She went on to finish her career at Northeastern State. After that, she tried out for different teams and eventually landed a spot with a semi pro team in 2018. But, Cudjoe still had her sights set on going pro. In June, the 26-year-old was picked up by Sky Blue FC and made her debut in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup.
“I was born for this and I’ve always wanted this,” said Cudjoe. “So, I just had to put the nerve wracking on the side and do the job. So, it was special for me. For me as a person, it was a special moment to be able to do that, something that I’ve wanted to do for so long. Now, in my country I’m the first ever player to go to college and be able to play in the league. So, doing that was just big for me so I can inspire kids in my country and the world.”
Sky Blue FC made it all the way to the semifinals in the Challenge Cup, but lost to the Chicago Red Stars.