Pine Crest soccer standout Jordyn Elliott and her family who had just returned from a vacation in Japan were begging their airport cab driver to put Game 6 of last season’s NBA Finals on the car radio.
Elliott’s father, Sean, is a commentator for the San Antonio Spurs — he also played forward for the franchise from 1989 to 2001, winning one NBA title and earning two trips to the All-Star Game.
Jordyn, who is a huge Spurs fan, and her family finally arrived home in time to watch the final quarter. And when Heat guard Ray Allen hit the three-pointer that beat the Spurs and cost them the championship, Jordyn screamed at the top of her lungs.
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Rival soccer coaches likely have a similar reaction when Jordyn puts the ball in the back of the net, which already has happened 14 times this season and 35 times in the past two years.
The scary part is that Jordyn is only a 15-year-old sophomore with plenty of time to hone her skills and add to her goal totals.
Sean Elliott, who split with Jordyn’s mom years ago, said he is not at all disappointed his daughter did not choose basketball.
“I see it in the NBA — guys who play because they’re big, but they don’t really love the game, and that’s why they’re not that good,” he said. “When Jordyn tried basketball, it just didn’t grab her.
“But she has the drive and passion for soccer. I don’t have to prod her. … She is everything I thought she could be and more.”
Jordyn lives with her stepfather, Ian Rose, and her mother, Akiko Rose, who met Sean while she was a University of Arizona cheerleader and he was a star on the basketball team.
Both have since remarried, and Jordyn flies out to San Antonio every other month to see her dad.
Jordyn, who at 5-9 is a foot shorter than her dad, did not inherit his basketball skills. She tried the sport briefly in the sixth grade and found she lacked much coordination with her hands.
She also — rather surprisingly for the daughter of an ex-NBA star — didn’t understand the game well.
“I didn’t know any of the rules even though I’ve been to millions of games,” Jordyn said with a laugh. “There are so many little rules.”
She has no such trouble with soccer, and she still calls herself the Spurs’ No. 1 fan in South Florida.
“The Spurs are part of my blood,” she said. “When I go to San Antonio [to visit her father], people are still talking about Game 6.”
Growing up, Jordyn felt sure she would follow her mother’s dance steps. At the time, Jordyn dreamed of going to a performing arts high school.
Ultimately, though, she became an athlete like her father — just in a different sport.
She tried volleyball as a middle hitter and track in the 400 meters — and had success in each. In fact, as an eighth-grader, with little practice, she set the school record for the 400 meters.
That year, her 1,600 relay team made it to state. The day of her race, Jordyn was competing in club volleyball in Orlando. When her games were done, Akiko drove her to Jacksonville, where she ran that night and turned in her fastest clocking, helping Pine Crest’s relay team finish fifth at state.
“I was exhausted by the end of that night,” Jordyn said. “But we drove back to Orlando, and I played volleyball the next day.”
Jordyn has since quit all other sports and is focusing on soccer.
She said she is following her father’s advice of doing what makes her happy — and that definitely wasn’t track.
“In track, I felt so much pressure before a race,” she said. “I would wake up 7 a.m., nervous for a meet that wasn’t until 7 that night.
“During the race, I didn’t know how to pace myself. When I was done running, I would feel dizzy and sick. I didn’t like that feeling.”
In soccer, Jordyn can use her speed while also meshing with her teammates.
“It’s a team sport, which I love,” said Jordyn, who will get to see her dad again when the Spurs visit the Heat on Jan. 26. “I love that all 11 of us can come together and score a goal. It’s not like other sports, where there is a point every five seconds. When you do score in soccer, there’s no better feeling.”
The only better feeling for Jordyn might have been a Ray Allen miss in Game 6.