3 SDA Alumni to Play Professionally Overseas
SDA Alumni Jade Gentile, Taylor Bennett, and Claire Stackel are all continuing their soccer careers and playing professionally overseas. We had the opportunity to catch up with each of them and discuss how they accomplished this new milestone. All ’98 SDA Girls, going from D1 Athletes to professional footballers.
Jade Gentile, SDA '98 Girls
Jade Gentile played forward at West Virginia University where she recently graduated from in 2020 with an honors degree in Supply Chain Management. Jade started playing with SDA when she was 11 years old; making her a seven-year club player with SDA. Each year, she attended the U.S Youth Soccer Regionals and won the title with her team in 2013.
“My favorite SDA memory was being able to win regionals and move on to play at nationals which was a goal myself and teammates worked so hard to achieve. Just the ability to get to nationals shows how well the club and coaches have prepared us to succeed.”
Jade had an exciting 4-year career with the Mountaineers. She logged minutes on the field every year with a dramatic increase in time each year. She was named to Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team (Fr.), Academic All-Big 12 First Team (So.), and Academic All-Big Second Team (Jr.). Jade recorded 2 goals and 3 assists during her time playing in the Big 12 at WVU.
“My favorite college memory was going to the final four my freshman year and making it to the championship game with my teammates. The amount of work my coaches and teammates put on and off the field to get to that point was the most rewarding feeling.”
“The SDA coaches helped give positive reinforcement as well as push me to be the best player I could be and gave me all the preparation I needed to play at WVU. Coach Mike Paolini, Bennett, and Beckwith are the most memorable coaches for me. They all believed in me which gave me the confidence to always push myself to the limit and work as hard as I could to become the player I am today.”
Jade is preparing to head over to Iceland to play professionally for UMFA. She has been doing a lot of preparation, both mentally and physically. Lucky for her old teammate and friend Taylor Bennett also plays for UMFA.
“I’m so excited that I can play with Taylor again! we both work so well together on the field. I cannot wait to see what we can do together and what the future holds for us at UMFA.”
Taylor Bennett, SDA '98 Girls Alumni
Taylor, who we recently interviewed about her professional career, is also looking forward to playing with Jade.
“I’m truly excited to be playing with Jade again. Jade and I have always played well together. Now, it has been about 5 years since we have been on the same team and I am sure both of us have developed and improved a lot so it is going to be interesting to see what we can accomplish together now. This is a one-of-a-kind experience that we are about to have and I’m fortunate enough to go through it with Jade.”
From SDA teammates to D1 athletes, these two SDA alumni have gone full circle! We are so excited to watch these two take the field together again professionally.
Claire Stackel, SDA '98 Girls Alumni
Claire Stackel spent two seasons at Le Moyne College and two seasons at University of Albany playing center mid. Claire was the leading scorer in 2017 at Lemoyne. She had five goals and one assist. She finished her career at Lemoyne with nine goals, six assists and a spot on the CoSIDA All-Academic District 1 Team. Claire joined the Great Danes in style; Making her first appearance, start, and a goal against Arizona in 2018. In her career at Albany, she scored 4 goals and had 4 assists.
Along with Jade and Taylor, Claire played on the Girls ’98 SDA Team. Playing with such a talented group of athletes motivated Claire to work harder and play smarter.
“My SDA coaches played to my strengths as a player. Never the fastest, quickest, or strongest player, my coaches knew I would almost always be the smartest player on the pitch. Their ability to encourage deeper focus and precision in my game allowed me to compete against more naturally gifted athletes. My most memorable coach was, of course, Mike Kirmse. His mentality to “do the right thing” guides me as an athlete and human being to this day.”
Claire's former teammate and friend, Taylor Bennett, inspired Claire to learn more about the professional process. Taylor connected Claire to her agent, and she received an offer to play with Diósgyőri VTK in Miskolc, Hungary.
“My favorite SDA memories had little to do with soccer. Some of my favorite times were spent in restaurants and hotel rooms of teammates.”
Jade, Taylor, and Claire went 4 years through Division 1 soccer to be led back to each other; 1998 SDA Girls. Through the skills they developed and friendships they formed, they were able to come back together and support each other in pursuing their professional careers.
“I think my advice would be to keep pushing and working your hardest towards your goal no matter what bumps are in the road or adversities you may face.”