KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jenna Winebrenner committed to Notre Dame so long ago that national signing day couldn’t have seemed more like a formality.
However, the Park Hill senior standout still found plenty of joy in making her college destination official in a small ceremony Wednesday, Feb. 1 at Park Hill High School. She became a big part of a seven-player signing class for the Fighting Irish, more than a year after making her pledge to the South Bend, Ind. school.
“I was still pretty excited about it,” Winebrenner said. “It’s good to get pen to paper and know that it’s not going to come out from under me and that it’s always going to be there. It feels like I’m a part of it now, part of the Irish.”
Going into her senior season, Winebrenner already boasts three selections to the Missouri High School Soccer Coaches Association all-state teams. She made the second team as a defender after her freshman and sophomore seasons before becoming a first team honoree as a junior.
Winebrenner possesses a versatile skillset for a central defender, often flashing her ability to join in on the attack.
“I enjoy helping the team,” Winebrenner said. “I like to win as a team more than get my own success. I’ve always been a defender so I’ve found my own ways to find my own personal feeling of achievement — stopping a girl from scoring or having a shutout. Shutouts are very important to me.”
Winebrenner’s contributions on offense have steadily increased while maintaining her defensive responsibilities.
As a freshman, Winebrenner scored eight goals with three assists while contributing to 17 shutouts. Park Hill’s shutouts went down to 16 in her sophomore season, while she contributed seven goals and nine assists.
Winebrenner tallied a career-highs for goals (13) and assists (10) as a junior while helping Park Hill set state records for shutouts in a single season (23) and consecutive shutouts in a season (12). The Trojans have advanced to the playoffs each of the past two years.
“I’m excited to see what we can do (this year) and build on what we’ve already done,” Winebrenner said.
A lanky 5-foot-7, Winebrenner doesn’t look the part of a protypical rugged central defender.
However, she reads the game well, according to Notre Dame coach Theresa Romagnolo, and instincts allow her to know when to join the attack and when to remain in a more traditional defensive position.
Winebrenner also displays an aggressive side on defense that doesn’t fit with her friendly off-field demeanor.
“I’ve tried to work on that. Playing with boys when I was younger didn’t help me,” Winebrenner said. “Girls are a lot different so I’ve worked on that. But yes, it does come out. The coaches seem to like it. Girls learn to live with it.”