Ola AjayiStaff Writer
As comfortable in the lab studying E. coli as he is on the field dishing tackles to opposition, biochemistry senior Jarrod Payne is one of the most experienced players in the Comets lineup.
A defensive player, Payne said he started playing soccer as a kid in Tomball, Texas, a town with a population of about 9,000 people. Payne said he took a year off soccer before high school, experimenting with other sports but ultimately went back to soccer.
“I played football in high school and ran cross country and track, but soccer was the main one. Around sophomore year, I realized I wanted to do soccer,” Payne said.
Joining the Comets in fall 2006, Payne played defense and midfield, the two roles he said he is most comfortable playing.
“It usually requires a guy with some strength, some quickness and a lot of jumping,” Payne said of the positions. “You are the guy making the 50-50 challenges in the air and on the ground, so you are always involved. I like playing in there for sure.”
Men’s soccer head coach Jack Peel said Payne’s exemplary attitude and leadership qualities set him apart on the field.
“He has played several different positions since he joined the team,” Peel said. “He has a great personality and is always willing to do whatever is asked of him.”
Growing up, Payne said he wasn’t a huge soccer fan, but the 1998 Soccer World Cup was one of the major tournaments he followed on TV.
Looking to get back to full fitness come the start of the new season, Payne said improving team chemistry, especially with the incoming freshmen, is also high on his priority list.
“If (freshmen) are involved and they are having fun, they are more likely to come back and contribute more in the years to come,” he said.
Winning the ASC title in 2007 remains the highlight of Payne’s three-year career with the Comets. He believes the team could repeat the feat this season as most of the squad was returning for the new season.
Scheduled to graduate next spring, Payne is certain this would be his final season in competitive soccer.
Having participated in an 11 week program studying E. coli strains at the biochemistry research lab located in the Natural Science and Engineering Research Laboratory building, he wants to continue in the field once he graduates.
“It’s really interesting,” he said. “It’s the kind of job I see myself doing and I’m kind of sad that it’s already over.”