Power buns are starting to pop up around Memorial Stadium.
At least that’s what Jasmyne Spencer calls the signature style where she wraps her hair in dual knots atop her head with a headband of her own design for Seattle Reign FC game days. Young soccer fans have mimicked the look that’s as eye-catching as the forward’s use of innate speed to change the tempo of matches and give Seattle opportunities to score.
Spencer’s first goal of the season was her own creation, a give-and-go play with midfielder Allie Long in a win against Washington earlier this month. It was also Spencer’s first start of the season and might have solidified her spot in the lineup.
The Reign (11-4-7, 40 points) plays its final home game of the regular season Saturday against NWSL-leading North Carolina.
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“In practices and games (as a sub), Jasmyne would make these unbelievable runs that would break the defense numerous times,” Reign coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “We saw it and felt it was a weapon we could use, but the question we always had was is it because she’s coming in late in the game and the other team is a little bit tired or is it something that she can do for 90 minutes? We tested it and she can do it.”
Proving herself is nothing new to Spencer. The Maryland alum has been doing that since joining the league its inaugural season in 2013. She played for Washington and the WNY Flash before being traded to Seattle by Orlando in January.
To stand out among a roster of 12 new players and a first-year coaching staff, Spencer typically arrives early to practices and stays late for extra training. With the Reign, she’s also sharpened her knowledge of how to use Andonovski’s noted defensive tactics as an offensive player.
“My journey is just a testament to how competitive and how hard it is to be a professional soccer player,” said Spencer, who’s also played professionally in Denmark, Cyprus and Australia. “I’ve been lucky enough to fight and always find a home.”
While soccer is as much of Spencer’s personality as being a fifth-generation New Yorker, it took a while for her to dedicate herself to the sport her mother and two older brothers still play recreationally.
Through childhood, the fast footwork was used as a trained dancer. She competed through Kovacs Studio of Dance in Bay Shore Long Island. In her final year with the program at age 15, Spencer’s solo tap routine earned her eighth place in a regional competition.
“That was my claim to fame,” Spencer said of the competition. “I still dance for fun. I take classes in the offseason – ballet and hip-hop. As an athlete, it helps me to be really well rounded. But I couldn’t say my foot skills on the ball come from my tap skills. I wish it were that easy. I’d be taking tap classes all the time.”
Instead Spencer uses the talent to teach teammates routines during downtime. Reign goalkeeper Michelle Betos and defender Yael Averbuch are also Spencer’s roommates, the trio often watching the television show “World of Dance” together.
“It’s not hard in our house to be the best dancer because Yael and I struggle,” said Betos, who played youth soccer with Spencer. “But Jasy is an incredible athlete. The biggest thing I’ve seen in her professional career is she’s really developed her finishing. The goal she scored the other day, I don’t know if a couple of years ago that she scores a goal like that. She took her natural talents and then really worked hard to develop and close the gaps on what she didn’t have.”
Andonovski said there’s little missing from Spencer’s game. He also plans to have her in Seattle long-term.
Spencer’s style blends nicely with gritty Reign mainstays like striker Megan Rapinoe and Jessica Fishlock.
“Toughness is in my genes,” Spencer said.