DUBOIS, Pa. (D9/EYT) – From a Reynoldsville Bulldog to a Hiram College Terrier, Jessica Smith has always been a “dawg” on the pitch, some would say whether that be figuratively or literally.
(Photos by Kasey Samuel Adams via Hiram Sports Information)
But really, Smith led her DuBois Lady Beavers squad in goals in her senior year (2016), scored one of the three goals in the D9 title game senior year, was a two-time offensive MVP with the Lady Beavers, won eight varsity letters between high school soccer and track and field, and was a three-time letter winner at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio while being a four-year member of the Lady Terriers women’s soccer program overall.
It is not often that people from our area choose to go to Hiram College for whatever reason that may be, but Smith was actually the second person in her immediate family to choose the small coeducational liberal arts college of just over 1,100 students. What Hiram lacks in numbers they make up for in quality of education and strong athletic opportunities at the Division III level.
“It was a weird coincidence to find out about Hiram because a family friend is a trustee and told my brother to look into attending school there. He really enjoyed his experience there, but originally, I did not want to go there.”
As we all know, plans are subject to change, and Hiram ended up being the optimal fit as she paired a strong education in exercise science with the opportunity to play college soccer in one of the premier Division III conferences in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC).
In her three college seasons, she played in 51 total games and was set to play in her fourth collegiate season in 2020 before COVID-19 had other plans, including causing the NCAC to cancel the 2020 fall athletic season. It was definitely not easy for the Jefferson County product and she said this about how soccer became part of her identity over the years.
“At first, I was like wow, I am not a soccer player anymore. It was a part of who I was. I did get to run some camps at Spider Lake for kids and it was nice to help them learn and find that love for the game again in a new way.”
Adversity is something she faced in her middle school soccer days as she was a Reynoldsville Elementary School kid who came to DuBois Middle School as a seventh-grader with only a few pals who also hailed from Reynoldsville.
“I faced the adversity of being an outsider and not being a DuBois kid. I will never forget my first junior high practice and nobody was really welcoming to us at first. However, that eventually stopped and we became a really strong, feared, and physical team.”
Smith played some travel soccer with AC United out of Altoona while also playing in some tournaments over the years for teams out of Reynoldsville and DuBois as well. This paired with track and field as a mid-distance runner became a large part of her life growing up, but she has recently found some other sports and activities to take up a lot of her time like hunting, fishing, and hiking. With a boyfriend as into the outdoors as Gauge Gulvas is. “We are always in the wilderness and I have really gotten into fishing as of late. I also got my first turkey this year and will be going deer hunting this winter as well.”
Gulvas has been a huge supporter of her athletic career and studies and so have her parents Jim and Debbie Smith. “They always pushed me to try to do more in everything that I did. They were at almost every game for me and I have them and my closest friends Marissa King, Jacey Wells, Erika Adamson, and Kyrsten Enseki to thank for always being there for me or just a phone call away over the years.”
The Reynoldsville native graduated in May of this year and intends to enroll in a masters program to become a registered dietitian in the future. To gain some additional experience in the industry, she accepted a position at Christ the King Manor in DuBois as a dietary aide before committing to continuing her time as a college student.
While it has been an interesting end to her time as a soccer player, Smith has found what is next for her post her days as being known as a soccer player first. She has found excitement in outdoor sports and recreation and is helping patients live a healthier lifestyle in her current position with a full career ahead for her in the nutrition and dietetics industry.