A true love is often demonstrated by starting early and continuing a passion without coercion or obligation. Such is the story of Jen Lalor-Nielsen. Jen grew up in Chula Vista, where she started playing soccer at five years old and began playing competitively at 10. “Even when I was six or seven years old, I constantly practiced on my own,” she said. “I just loved playing.”
Jen’s childhood was a busy one, when travel teams based out of Los Angeles meant she had to commute four times a week. Homework in the car was an everyday part of life, but it was worth it as she ended up making the U-16 National Team at age 12. At 17, Jen made her first appearance with the U.S. Women’s National Team, went to the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) Women’s World Cup in Sweden and brought home the 1995 bronze medal.
After a full scholarship to Santa Clara University, Jen traveled to play professionally overseas, then returned home and played semi-pro for the WFC (World Football Challenge) now known as the San Diego SeaLions. They won a national championship that year, which opened the door for Jen to be drafted in the second round of the Pro League. Many years of playing and winning resulted in two of her greatest victories – the birth of daughter Elisa and son Alec. While pregnant with Alec, she became head coach of the San Diego SeaLions, and has coached there for the past four years.
Semi-pro is not Jen’s only passion. She’s been coaching at Poway High School for the past nine years, eight of which they’ve made the playoffs, and four CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) finals or semi-finals. Jen loves coaching at the high school level, because it’s not about recruiting players in, but about connecting with the players who are there.
Although Jen’s most exciting memory as an athlete is playing for the National Team in China (she was the very first player to score a goal in a new stadium called Dragon Stadium), as a coach she cherishes winning this year’s National Championship with her San Diego SeaLions. “I have never been a part of something so powerful before,” she shared. “The connection and belief all the girls had this season was incredible and inspiring.”
Jen Lalor-Nielsen practices this motto in all arenas of her life – Never say never and always believe.[box title=”Profile Information” color=”#70a45b”]
Name: Jen Lalor-Nielsen
Community: Rancho Bernardo
Profession:Professional soccer coach
Family: Husband – Bo Nielsen (coached soccer at his home country of Denmark)
Children – Elisa (8), Alec (5)
(both also play soccer)
Favorite Color: Pink
Favorite TV Show: Dancing With the Stars