By Ottawa Sports Pages, For Ottawa TFC Soccer Club
She’s a role model for them, and a spirited player and coach who expects hard work from them, but you can tell from the ever-present sparkle in their eyes, and the frequent smiles and laughs, that Jordan Lundin has made a special connection with her young aspiring soccer stars.
“A lot of it is just finding ways to inspire them – every kid’s different, so you’ve got to interact with them a little bit differently,” says Lundin, who leads Ottawa TFC’s U8-U10 competitive/academy girls. “But the biggest piece is making an environment that everyone wants to come to, where everyone’s having fun and gets to see their friends, just creating a really positive atmosphere.
“And we always talk about losing our ‘cool card’ at the door when we come into coaching. You kinda gotta be a little kid sometimes too.”
When she was a kid herself, Lundin “got the best of both worlds” by playing for both of Ottawa TFC’s root clubs – with Cumberland until the under-14 level and then with FC Capital United.
An early memory that sticks out was attending The Robbie Soccer Tournament, a renowned charity competition that supports Cystic Fibrosis research. Her team bonded while preparing for the event and fundraising.
“It was a really, really cool experience at such a young age,” reflects Lundin, whose Cobras team also won the tournament. “At 12 years old, I’d never thought about donating to charity or recognized the greater good that can come from sport. It kind of opened all our eyes.”
Life lessons continued with Cap U, particularly on the value of resilience. Lundin’s squad got relegated from the top provincial league in its first season, but won their way back, stayed up the next year, and then won a groundbreaking provincial division championship as U17s.
The 2013 Canada Summer Games bronze medallist for Team Ontario later lived a similar experience while studying exercise, sport and health education at Radford University in southern Virginia. Lundin’s Highlanders hardly won any games in her first season, but come her senior year, a driven group rallied to win the 2018 conference championship.
“It was unbelievable, really cool,” recounts the midfielder who was recently named to the Big South conference all-decade team. “I haven’t even put the ring on – I’m too scared to break it or something.”
Lundin returned home after her NCAA career, and now plays for Ottawa TFC’s women’s premiere squad.
“We’ve kind of started to pull back some of those players that I played with my whole life,” notes the Cairine Wilson Secondary School grad. “We’re still in touch all the time, and that’s really special.”
Lundin’s first foray into coaching came quite early around age 12 when she began helping out younger players under the guidance of Yuuki Chartrand, and she later picked up plenty more from trainer Sanjeev Parmar and her own coach at Cap U, Raz El-Asmar (now Ottawa TFC’s Girls Academy Director).
“I grew a passion for it, obviously, but I wasn’t totally into coaching until I started to get the leadership side of it – recognizing how much of an impact you can make on the athlete’s life,” explains Lundin, who also coaches Ottawa TFC’s Ontario Player Development League U14 girls. “It’s always my goal for them to look up to me and for them to learn from some of the things that I’ve been through with my soccer career or in coaching, or even in their own lives – just any way that I can sprinkle some inspiration for them is what it’s really all about for me.”
Fellow Ottawa TFC coach Roberto Di Nuzzo says Lundin fuels her coaching counterparts too.
“Jordan is someone who’s extremely hardworking, doesn’t complain, she’s unbelievably positive with everything,” highlights Di Nuzzo. “I haven’t met anyone who can impact the girls the way Jordan has. I’m so inspired seeing the relationships she’s able to build.”
Lundin, who’s played at the provincial, national and collegiate levels, says Ottawa TFC owns the best culture out of everywhere she’s been. Having many past club players now involved in coaching helps to spread that enriching atmosphere, to make connections between different age groups, and to spark a sense of unity among all levels, she adds.
“It’s a very positive place, and we all hold each other to a very high standard,” Lundin underlines. “The coaches and staff, we’re all very self-motivated people. And in turn, we’ve managed to make it a very motivating environment for our teams too, which is really, really cool.”
Alongside her coaching roles, Lundin works for Ottawa TFC as Executive Assistant, handling many aspects of administration, including finance. After spending countless hours on the pitch throughout her young life, Lundin says finding a career in soccer is a great next chapter.
“It’s brought me to a lot of cool places. I’ve traveled a lot because of soccer. I’ve been able to be a part of a lot of really high-achieving teams,” notes the 25-year-old. “I think what makes me love soccer so much is that it’s such an emotional experience. You experience loss, love, stress, everything. Every time you step on the field, you kind of get a swirl of those emotions all in one go. It’s kind of an indescribable feeling.
“I’m also just so grateful for all the friendships that I’ve been able to make, and all of the mentors I’ve been able to have, because of the sport. I certainly would not be the same person I am today if I didn’t have soccer in my life.”