Jackie Welch Post goal

Soccer Andrew Maraniss

Behind the Dores: Jackie Welch

Indiana transfer helping Dores to red-hot start in 2018

A transfer from the University of Indiana, senior women's soccer player Jackie Welch has embraced every aspect of her Vanderbilt experience, from incredible summer internships to exploring Nashville with friends to being a key part of the Commodores' great start to the 2018 season.

Two summers ago, I interned for Gatorade. I did long-term innovation, which is products that are coming out in 5 to 10 years. We made a product they're starting to put in different gyms and studios now. I came up with the idea based on research and focus groups we had done with gym and studio leaders.

It's a hydration solution. If you think of an automatic water dispenser where you put your bottle underneath, our product shoots out a shot of electrolytes. Something like 65 percent of people are already bringing a water bottle with them, so why would they buy another bottle of water or Gatorade? Our product tops off their water with electrolytes.

This past summer with Aunt Jemima, I built a short-term strategy to make $15 million for the brand and to increase brand relevance. I made a Facebook ad and came out with another innovation.  It's a single-serve pancake cup that's coming out next year. Right now, people are really only [making pancakes] once a month when all the family is getting together. The single-serve product makes it more of an everyday kind of thing.

I would love to do marketing as a career. Longer-term, recruiting is what I would really like to do, specializing in Chief Marketing Officers. Now I'm doing whatever I can to understand the business.

After high school I was burned out with sports. I'd played basketball and soccer all my life, and I was like the 27th person in my family to go to the University of Indiana. I grew up near Chicago but my whole mom's side of the family is from Indiana.

Indiana was the only school I applied to, and I had decided I was going to stop playing sports and join a sorority and be a "regular" student. But I found myself lost there. I had always had a team, so I missed the feeling of having a community.

I started reaching out to other schools I had talked to in high school. Our [Vanderbilt] coaching staff had been at Penn when they recruited me in high school. I begged them to reconsider me and promised them I'd be a hard worker.

Being a transfer student, it definitely helped that I played a sport. I got to come here earlier in the summer, so by the time the other transfer students showed up, I already had my friends. Vanderbilt does a really good job of getting all the transfers together, so we felt close to each other.

I'm a Cubs fan. They lost so much when I was growing up. When they won the World Series we were on a bus coming back from the SEC Tournament. We had two Cubs fans on the team. It was 1 a.m. where we were, but we stayed up watching it. We have nice buses with beds on them, so it was really cool to be on that bus watching the Cubs win the World Series.

I've definitely regained love for soccer since I arrived here. I had played center back all my life, and when I came here I wasn't sure if I'd ever see the field. They threw me up top as forward, and I'd never played that position in my life. I've stayed in that position ever since and I love it.

You can be super-creative. You're always an optimist up top. In your head everything is going to go right and you're going to score. That mindset gave me a lot of confidence. If you screw up, the ball goes to midfield, it doesn't result right away in a goal.

To me, the best thing about playing soccer at Vanderbilt has been the friendships and relationships I've made on the team. My first year, I stayed to myself and didn't branch out as much as I could. I was so focused on school, and adding soccer back to my life was a challenge. But as I started reaching out to more people, I realized how much I love this game and this school and the people on the team.

I'm taking a "women in leadership" class right now, and I've written some reflective papers. What I've decided is that individually, we need to support women's sports more. When we're sitting at home, what are you turning on? You're watching the Cubs or the Bears? If you're really supportive of women's sports, then support them. I don't think enough people do. You have to act on your beliefs.

My parents and coaches have emphasized the concept of living in the present. If you can mentally be in the present and not worry about things you can't control, I've found I can find more happiness in that.

My advice to other students doing internships is to ask questions. It's easy for interns to be afraid to step out and ask a question that might sound stupid, but I'm all about it. Also, just working on your relationships with your coworkers. Everyday I'd ask one to get coffee or go to lunch. You learn how to communicate and what motivates them.

My friends and I always go on what we call "joy rides." We hop in a Jeep in the evening when it's the "golden hour" and we drive through Belle Meade or we won't know where we're going, we just turn right, turn left. We drive around and sing.

I'm a very good napper. I have a sound machine to block out my loud roommates. You can't nap too long, or you're drowsy afterward.

It has to be an hour. That's spot on.

Interviewed by Andrew Maraniss
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