Senior Sketches: Jen Wilkinson

Oct. 31, 2003

It almost didn't work out this way.

Jen Wilkinson could have been performing pirouettes on a dance floor rather than heading soccer balls into goals.

"My mom wanted me to be a dancer," Wilkinson said.

"I was in dance classes for a long time. Then, my best friend said, 'Hey, I'm going to play soccer.' So, I asked my mom, 'Can I play, too?' That's how I got started. I didn't know I would play in college. I just played."

Wilkinson began noticing attention from college recruiters during her junior year of high school. It appeared for a time that Wilkinson would be going west from her suburban Chicago home for college rather than southeast.

"I didn't even want to come on my visit here. My mom forced me. I didn't want to get on the plane. I didn't want to go on my trip. I said, 'No, I'm not going to Kentucky.' I had already taken my visit to Iowa, and I told my mom that's where I was going. I knew I was going to Iowa."

Mom won the battle over the recruiting visit. Jen reluctantly boarded the plane for Lexington.

"I came here and everything just seemed to fit. I loved the coaches and the girls were a lot of fun. They made it an easy choice. I just really liked Kentucky."

It didn't take long for Wilkinson to like Kentucky once she became a Wildcat. She scored two goals and dished out six assists during a solid freshman season. Wilkinson has played in 79 matches, starting 71 of those contests with career totals of eight goals and 16 assists for 32 points. Wilkinson also has excelled in the classroom, earning a Verizon Academic All-District IV First-Team selection in 2002 after collecting second-team honors in 2001.

Wilkinson thinks positively upon the university she has come to know after nearly never making it to Lexington.

"I've been able to meet a lot of different people, and, of course, I'll never forget this great group of girls. Our team is a big family. Tim (Bennett) has been like a big brother and Warren (Lipka) has been like a father."

Wilkinson plans to complete work on a communications degree after the Cats' post-season stint.