Father’s Day is just a few days away, but Litchfield’s Jordan Morgan has already given her dad something memorable this month.
“I don’t tell him it enough, but he definitely made this all possible,” Morgan said of her father DJ, who has coached Jordan and her sisters Devan and Mattie since they were young. “He put in so many hours driving us to Troy and O’Fallon and dealing with teenage girls all of the time. I definitely wouldn’t be as good of a soccer player without him.”
DJ and Robin Morgan’s dedication to their daughters’ love of soccer already paid dividends when Mattie graduated from Litchfield in 2016, as their oldest moved on to play for the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, but the family doubled up on the accomplishments on Thursday, June 11, with Jordan and Devan both signing letters of intent to play soccer for Illinois College this fall.
“I loved their athletic facilities. They had some of the nicest that I saw during my campus visits,” Morgan said of her decision to attend Illinois College with her twin sister. “And the academics there are really great. They have some really great internships in some programs that I was interested in.”
The 2020 grad is planning to study engineering and environmental science, with hopes of working with the Environmental Protection Agency someday. While the academic side of Illinois College solidified the choice for Morgan, who was fifth in her class and a member of the National Honor Society, the chance to earn her degree while continuing her passion on the pitch was icing on the cake.
“We have 11 freshmen coming in and we’re all hoping to improve the team a little bit,” said Morgan, who helped Litchfield to 37 wins in her three years as a Panther before COVID-19 stole her senior season.
The Lady Blues are 14-41 over the last three years, going 3-24 in a solid Midwest Conference. But last year was Coach Hunter Gray’s first at the helm of the program and the former University of Alabama-Birmingham player brings 25 years of coaching experience to Jacksonville.
What IC gets in Morgan is an instant offensive threat and an all-around athletic talent. A four-year letter winner in volleyball and three-year winner in soccer (excluding the 2020 season that was cancelled), Morgan was part of two regional championship teams in 2017 and 2019 and the Panthers also made it to the regional championship game in 2018.
After a freshman campaign that saw her lead the team in assists and finish among the team’s top goal scorers, Morgan was a third team all-conference pick by the South Central Conference coaches.
Her success on the field continued in her sophomore season, when she was named as a captain with her sister. Morgan would finish second in goals scored with five and led the team in assists for the second straight year.
In her junior season, Morgan returned to the all-conference team with a second team nod. Her stats backed that selection as she finished with ten goals (second most on the team) and once again led the team in assists with 15 dimes.
After a successful club campaign in which she led Impact FC in assists, Morgan was poised to improve on those numbers and perhaps collect a third regional title, before COVID-19 had other plans.
“It was definitely sad that we weren’t able to play our last season with some of our high school friends, but still having the opportunity for it to not be over is really exciting,” Morgan said on the chance to play in college. “With Impact FC and high school, you play with so many people from around your community and I’m definitely going to miss that. In college, we have girls from California and all over, and that’s going to be exciting, but I’m going to miss playing with the girls I’ve known my whole life.”
Well...not all the girls. Morgan will still have the opportunity to play with her sister, something that the twins were not originally planning for.
“We didn’t plan to go to the same college. We’re not even rooming together at IC, because we want to have our own experience, but we’re so similar, IC was a perfect fit for us,” Morgan said.
While it wasn’t their original intention to go to the same school, the loss of their senior season has made the decision all that much sweeter for Morgan.
“I would have been heartbroken if I wasn’t going to get to play with Devan at least one more game. We were both looking at different schools in St. Louis and I can’t imagine if we would have picked those schools and wouldn’t have been able to play together,” Morgan said. “I’m really glad that I get another four years with her.”
It will be pretty special for their parents too, who won’t have to split time to see their daughters play. A pretty good gift for a dad who Morgan said is responsible for not only her success, but the success of some of her former teammates.
“He started our Litchfield Futbol Club team when we were 12, brought a bunch of girls who weren’t very good at soccer into the club season and made us good soccer players,” Morgan said of her father, who continued to coach them with Impact FC. “He ended up having about six of us recruited to play soccer at good schools over the past few years. I definitely wouldn’t be as good of a soccer player without him. He kind of made that happen for a lot of us.”