This is the third in a series of eight articles profiling the Seneca Valley Sports Hall of Fame's Class of 2019.
CHANDLER, Ariz. — Still in its first decade of existence, the Seneca Valley girls soccer program was in need of star power.
Jill (Colbert) Brown was up to the challenge.
A midfielder on SV's varsity team all four years, she graduated in 1996 with 53 career goals and 37 assists, both program records at the time. While the assist record was broken 13 years later, the goal standard still stands.
Brown will be inducted into the SV Sports Hall of Fame in September.
“My older brother, Brad, played soccer, and I picked it up after him when I was five years old,” said Brown, a native of Cranberry Township. “I had a passion for it and stuck with it.
“At the time I set those records, it really didn't matter to me. What mattered was winning. Individual accomplishments mean nothing if your team is not doing well.”
An injury to a teammate during Brown's freshman season forced her into the lineup in the fall of 1992 and she responded by scoring three goals to help the Raiders win a game.
“I felt a little overwhelmed at the start, but I definitely progressed and improved throughout my high school career,” said Brown. “I also played for the Pittsburgh Strikers (club team) and ended up making an (Olympic Development Program) team.”
Brown brought a unique skill set to the field as witnessed by her high school coach, Rick Taft.
“She had an innate ability to fake an opponent and it was really something to see,” he said. “She could dribble through five people and that opened things up for her teammates.
“Jill had great vision and showed great leadership by example. She could play defense and also push the ball.”
Brown's ability was integral in the Raiders winning their first-ever section title in 1993.
“We were a young program and anything we were able to win was huge,” said Brown, who had to battle a foe aside from the ones wearing a different uniform. She dealt with exercise-induced asthma during her playing career.
“It was frustrating as an athlete, but I felt I had to fight through anything to get on the field,” she said. “By my senior year, I had it under control.”
When Brown was notified of her upcoming induction, she did not have to think long of who to ask to present her.
“I instantly thought of Coach Taft,” she said. “He believed in me and the team and motivated us. All three of my kids played soccer and I tried to pass on to them what he taught me.”
“It's an honor when someone asks you to do something like this,” said Taft. “Jill had incredible skills and I saw her develop into one of the best players in western Pennsylvania.”
Brown made a point to thank her parents, Bruce and Rose.
“I got a lot of support from them,” she said. “They were a huge reason why I was able to do what I did.”