TUCSON, Ariz. – As an eight year old, freshman Jaden DeGracie was focused on gymnastics until her coach found a way for her to incorporate gymnastics into the sport of soccer by way of a flip throw-in.
To successfully utilize the “flip throw”, DeGracie takes the ball in her hands, gets a running start, leaps off her left foot and into a front handspring. As the ball touches the ground, DeGracie swings back onto her feet and hurls the ball into her teammates.
“I was a gymnast before,” DeGracie said. “When I was eight years old my coach showed me a YouTube clip of it and I tried it immediately and I’ve been doing it ever since then. I pretty much got it first try but trying to perfect it has taken many years of practice.”
According to teammate Hannah Wong it has been a huge part of the offense this season as DeGracie has accumulated a total of four assists in six games.
“It’s a real positive in the offense because it’s like a cross,” Wong said. “We get a lot of opportunities on goal from it and we have scored a couple goals off of it. It’s a real benefit to have on the field. “
The “flip throw-in” has the ability to create something out of nothing. DeGracie is able to launch the ball almost 40 yards from out of bounds and generate a scoring opportunity from anywhere within the midfield.
“I take corner kicks, as well, but I prefer to take throw-ins because I’m more accurate with it,” DeGracie said. “I can pick out which player I want to throw it to and that way we can get a scoring chance. It’s a team effort but I think my job is easy because all I have to do is throw it.”
Although DeGracie’s weapon is mostly used for the attacking aspect, she uses it also to keep the ball out of the back near the goal.
“I like to do it attacking,” DeGracie said. “Sometimes if I’m in the defense and I want to get the ball out of the back I will use it but it’s mostly just for attacking.”
Most teams practice plays that are designed off the basic throw in. Wong has noticed that as DeGracie does her flip throw, the opposing team is in shock and it opens up the goal for the Wildcats to score.
“The first couple of times that she does it they’re caught off guard,” Wong said. “Almost all of our opportunities have been off of her throw-in. The basic concept of it is to get the ball in there and we attack it.”
DeGracie is one of three of the Wildcat players able to successfully incorporate the “flip throw-in” into the match. Although it’s quite the show, it has proven to be a very important part of the Arizona attack as well as given opposing teams something to fear when the ball goes out of bounds.