Oct. 15, 1997
After missing last season with an injury, Tania Jovanovic is playing soccer again
By Adam Jones
Tania Jovanovic has made her mark on Virginia soccer.
Tania Jovanovic is midway through her fourth year of school at
the University of Virginia. However, this is only her third
year playing soccer for the Cavaliers. She missed the 1996
season after suffering an ankle injury which kept her sidelined
the entire year. Even with the playing time she missed last
season, Jovanovic is tied for first all-time at UVa in
game-winning assists with nine, and is tied for seventh in
career assists with 16. Although her playing time this season
has diminished since her injury, Jovanovic's impact on the team
has never changed. "I'm not at the level of play that I
was before my injury," says Jovanovic. "My ankle still hurts at
times, but it's not hurting in a way that will keep me from
playing. I don't feel like it is unstable or anything, but
there has definitely been an adjustment to make. I think
anytime you take a year off from a sport, it's hard technically
and tactically to return. So now I'm trying to get back into
the swing of things."
Jovanovic has made a number of achievements in uniform, but she
has also been very influential away from the field. Some of her
contributions may have gone unnoticed by others, but not her
teammates. "My role as a player has obviously changed,"
says Jovanovic. "Maybe with more hard work, I can get back to
where I was before my injury. I feel like it is something that
is in my own hands. However, my role as a person and teammate
has been that I've always tried to be outgoing. Even after my
injury, I have stayed positive because I care about the team
and all of my teammates. I've always been an optimistic person.
Maybe I'm not leading on the field the way I would have if I
had not been injured, but I'm still a leader on the team
because of my character. I also try to look out for the younger
players, because I remember how it was such a tense environment
for my teammates and I during our first year. We decided that
this year we were going to make sure that the first year class
didn't feel that way." It obviously worked, and the
reaction hasn't gone unrecognized. "Just the other day, there
was a note attached to my door, and it said, 'To all the fourth
years, I really appreciate the talk you gave us in the locker
room yesterday. All of us really appreciate the way all of you
have made us feel so welcomed.'
"That made me feel so good because some of us didn't feel that
way when we first came here," says Jovanovic. "I encourage all
of my teammates to come and talk to me about anything if they
need to. This is my fourth year and a lot of what the younger
players are going through now, with school and soccer, I've
already been through. I want them to know that I am here for
The chemistry on this years squad, both on and off the field,
has certainly been beneficial. The Cavaliers stand 10-1-2 on
the season, and everyone is contributing towards the team's
ultimate goal, winning a national championship.
"We feel good and we are confident," says Jovanovic. "It is the
middle of the season, and a lot of teams that are very good in
the beginning of the season will die off. That is one thing we
are addressing as a team, so it doesn't happen to us. I think
the most important thing for us is to look at what we need to
do from game to game, and to keep our confidence up in
practice. I think we have more depth on the team this year than
we have ever had in my four years. A lot of that contributes to
the mix of experience our returning players bring, along with
the talent our first years players have brought with them."
Only time will tell how far this year's team will go.
But no matter how far that is, the Cavaliers won't have to look
very far for a player that is ready. Ready for her teammates,
and ready to play.