Joe Gonzalez was waiting for the moment when everything would come together for his star forward, Jordin Bartel.
She had all the physical tools, standing 5-foot-10 and possessing ball skills unlike many her height, but the mental parts of her game had yet to fully mature, he said.
As her coach at Ferndale and an assistant coach on her club team, the U-18 Whatcom FC Rangers 96 Gold team, that moment Gonzalez so anxiously waited for finally arrived this summer.
“I watched her handle the pressure. She is just coming into her self,” Gonzalez said in a phone interview. “Just now, things are really starting to click into the next level. ... She has been blessed with a few things, attributes that now she has the wisdom to use.”
Against some of the best competition in the country, Bartel helped lift her Rangers squad to a second-place finish at the U.S. Club Soccer National Cup in Greensboro, N.C., in mid-July, displaying composure within the bigger moments of the tournament.
And if the senior is just scratching the surface, like Gonzalez believes, then the Golden Eagles possess one of the premier strikers in all the Northwest Conference.
“For me this year, I’m going to definitely try to score as many goals as I have in the past few seasons,” Bartel said in a phone interview. “I’m going to try to help us get to playoffs, and hopefully state.”
Ferndale opens its season against Lynden in a non-conference matchup at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 9 at Bender Fields.
Bartel isn’t a hidden commodity, at least in the NWC. She recorded 11 goals and four assists last season, both team highs, earning first-team All-Whatcom County and second-team All-NWC honors in the process. Over a certain six-game stretch, she posted seven goals, showing off the elite scoring ability she possesses, lending credence to her hopes of again scoring in double figures.
“When Jordin is coming at full speed, jumping in the air, it would make me nervous,” Gonzalez said. “A lot of keepers will feel her presence. She’s not afraid to share that. She’s got that edge that she wants to play and she wants to compete.”
Paired with her aggressive nature, Bartel has never played timid — it’s not a part of her nature, she said. In her freshman year at Ferndale, the imposing forward received two yellow cards in one game, earning her a one-game suspension for her style of play. At that point, she had yet to learn how to fully control her temperament.
“I was very upset. I came off the field crying,” she said. “When I’m aggressive it gives me the advantage to win the ball over and to win the ball first.”
Synchronizing her physical skills and mental fortitude became an exercise in patience for Gonzalez. He would challenge her during practice, trying to draw out the maturation he needed her to display. She has always been resilient, he said, and dedicated to the game of soccer, proving that when she was designated to the lowest level of the Rangers soccer program after she tried out several years ago.
“Her first tryout for the Rangers, they missed her by that much,” Gonzalez said of her placement into the lowest tier. “I guess I don’t know why she got missed out, but we’ve done our most to encourage her to keep growing.”
Before long, she worked her way up to the top-tier gold team, becoming perfect evidence of a motto Gonzalez tells his girls each year: “Potential minus commitment equals nothing.”
Bartel lacks neither potential nor commitment.