Jaasiel Forde’s journey to college took her from an island in the Caribbean to a small town in North Carolina. Now a junior defender at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, Forde originally hails from Trinidad and Tobago.
“It is a very interesting story of how I got into Gardner-Webb,” Forde told BGN. “To make a long story short, my dad posted a picture of me playing soccer on Facebook and a high school friend of his from Trinidad who also went to Gardner-Webb reached out inquiring if I currently played the game.
“A week later I sent my highlight video to the coaches, this was followed up by a Skype call and then I signed maybe a month after. So far my three years here have been filled with wonderful memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The coaching and teaching staff are great and the university’s environment radiates positive energy.”
Forde played in nine matches as a freshman before starting all 21 matches and registered one goal and one assist as a sophomore in 2019, earning NCCSIA Second Team All-State honors.
After a lengthy layoff following the 2019 NCAA campaign, Jaasiel is officially an upperclassman on the roster. Has she stepped into more of a leadership role in 2021? “The culture on our team is very different to most college soccer teams as the leadership roles are spread throughout the team,” Forde answered. “As an upperclassmen, I tend to step up as a leader when it is necessary to benefit the team as I believe that leaders can rise at any given opportunity.”
In addition to being a star for the Runnin’ Bulldogs, Forde has also had the opportunity to play for the youth national team of her native Trinidad and Tobago. ““Playing for my country would always be one of the top moments of my soccer career,” she explained. “There is no better feeling than standing on a soccer field while your national anthem is being played, facing the people you share history and culture with. At that moment everything external disappears, it is such a surreal moment.”
“The friends I made and the fun times we shared will always connect us years from now and it would be an honor to represent my country again at a higher level.”
For anyone here in the United States that isn’t familiar with her country, Forde explained, “Trinidad and Tobago is a Caribbean island where there are a plethora of cultures making us one giant “callaloo” as we love to say. It is one of the few countries where you can see a Mosque allowing the parking lot to be used to help the Catholic Church with extra parking across the street.”
“The respect for each other’s differences in beliefs is something I truly love about my country.”
Back in the NCAA, Gardner-Webb is 2-3-2 this season with three matches remaining, including Sunday vs. Campbell. Jaasiel has started in four matches, playing at least 90 minutes in each, and picked up an assist in a win over Charleston Southern. “It was a pleasure to be back on the field with my teammates after the long layoff,” Forde said. “The season indeed had its challenges due to players going in and out of quarantine myself included. To close off the season it would just take a lot of team discipline, determination, and a relentless attitude to end strong and hopefully become conference champions of the Big South.”
After this season concludes, Forde will be looking ahead to her senior year. “The areas of my game I wish to improve going into the next season would have to be working my way out of tight spaces and scoring on attacking corners,” she said. Whether it’s on the collegiate level or with the national team, the future is bright for Jaasiel Forde.