Return of veteran Jimenez Delgado key to Crimson Tide's success thus farBy Ben Stansell | 09/06/2017 11:36pm
When Celia Jimenez Delgado sits down to work on her aerospace engineering homework, she immediately identifies the most difficult problems and quickly works to tackle them. From the soccer pitch to the training room and everywhere in between, Jimenez Delgado’s headfirst approach to facing her most challenging obstacles is evident in each facet of her life.
"When you start something you are fresh and then you’re going to get tired so it’s easier to lead with the hardest thing,” she said when explaining her daily mentality. “Not giving up and enjoying new and harder challenges is definitely something I’ve learned.”
Jimenez Delgado, a senior midfielder who hails from Alcaudete, Spain, was forced to rely on her go-getter mindset more than ever last year after she sustained a season-ending ACL tear in a pre-season exhibition match against Auburn. The injury, which came with only a few seconds left on the clock, kept Jimenez Delgado sidelined for seven months.
While a serious sports-related injury has never occurred at a convenient time, Jimenez Delgado’s ACL tear happened at an especially untimely moment in her career. After having just finished playing for the Spanish national team in the 2015 World Cup and completing a stellar junior season, Jimenez Delgado was poised for an even more impressive senior year. She had even been selected to the SEC Preseason watch list. As a result of her injury, Jimenez Delgado was forced to redshirt, allowing her to play out her senior season this year.
Even though Jimenez Delgado’s extended absence was difficult for both her and the team to deal with, it did not come without a few silver linings. For Jimenez Delgado, the injury proved to be another teaching tool.
“It was a learning experience for sure, about being patient and knowing how to put the work in, even if you don’t see the outcome right away,” Jimenez Delgado stated.
In Coach Wes Hart’s opinion, Jimenez Delgado’s injury was tough to swallow at the time, but now allows her to help lead the Crimson Tide for another season.
“It was pretty disheartening to know that there was a senior leader on your team that you were going to lean on and expect a lot from and to lose her was disheartening,” Coach Hart stated. “The great thing was that it allowed some other younger players to get some experience and we also knew that we’d be getting her back for another year.”
On a team loaded with young talent, Jimenez Delgado’s veteran experience has proven to be just as valuable as her statistical production so far this season. Jimenez Delgado has already recorded two assists and scored one goal herself, but to Coach Hart, it is her intangibles that make her an invaluable part of the team.
“Her overall presence and the comfort level that she brings is invaluable,” said Hart. “What’s really important is her composure, whether you’re talking about her decision making on the ball or her ability to settle the game and other players down when she’s on the field.”
It is no surprise that Jimenez Delgado possesses an advanced level of composure. She has been able to achieve conference-wide honors for her play on the pitch while balancing the demanding course load that comes with being an aerospace engineering major. As the final chapter in her collegiate career continues, Jimenez Delgado appreciates how far the Alabama program has come during her time in Tuscaloosa; however, Jimenez Delgado also knows that she and the Crimson Tide have a lot left to accomplish.
“This season is so special because it’s going to be my last year and I think Coach Hart is doing a great job managing the team,” Jimenez Delgado said. “We’re all on the same page and we’re really looking forward to what’s to come.”