By Lexi Ray
Many players around the world dream of reaching achievements such as playing at the collegiate level, winning the first ACCAC Championship for a program in 10 years, winning a PBC championship while playing Division II soccer and playing for a professional team like the Jacksonville Armada.
For Jed Bowman, 24, a 2023 Flagler College graduate it is more than just reaching these milestones.
Bowman had joined the age group above his as a kid with ease as if the accomplishment was nothing. He is a player who lacks faith in his abilities.
“I was okay at football at a young age, but I was nothing crazy,” Bowman said. “I can remember that I could always strike the ball harder than most of the other kids.”
Like most kids he started playing in a club near his house. Where he discovered a game that gives you all of the highs and lows.
“I got started in competitive sport when I was around 9,” Bowman said. “There was a local football club called Intersport close to where I lived. There was no team for my age group, so I joined the year above.”
But no, Bowman couldn’t possibly be good. Just casually joining the age group above his like it is not a big deal.
He got his start in the U.S. on the West Coast. He started out in New Mexico and then ended up at a junior college in Arizona for his sophomore season.
“My sophomore year I did at a junior college in Arizona. We had an amazing group of lads, both on the pitch and off,” Bowman said. “We finished fourth in our conference but went on to win the playoffs, to win the first ACCAC championship for the program in 10 years.”
Despite the success Bowman has had which most people would attribute to his skills, he calls it a miracle.
“We traveled to Salt Lake City to play our regional final,” Bowman said. ”They had a perfect record, I think conceded three goals in their entire season and somehow, we managed to beat them 3-1. Don’t ask me how, it was nothing short of a miracle.”
This amount of humbleness is certainly not something you expect from a collegiate athlete at any level. They are notorious for having egos the size of some small countries. Bowman is something else entirely though.
After the amazing success in Arizona, there were plenty of options for his junior year. But there’s no way this could be because he was actually good.
“I had a few options for my junior year,” Bowman said. “I had a buddy who went to Flagler in 2018 and I asked if he could put me in contact with the coach. Coach Chris Kranjc was the only coach that I had spoken to that really made me feel wanted. He saw what a few coaches saw, but he was all in. Within 24 hours there was an offer and I accepted.”
While at Flagler, despite no one knowing who they were. Bowman and his team managed to get yet another championship title.
“At Flagler we didn’t play for anyone but ourselves, not as individuals, but as a unit. No one knew who we were, they never really won anything,” Bowman said. “But with a bit of hard work and by never giving in, we managed to get over the line and we were able to win a championship.”
After that championship win in 2021, Bowman found the Jacksonville Armada.
“That year me and Flagler won the Peach Belt against all odds, won 2 Penalty shootouts to win the conference, and what followed was 3-4 weeks of celebrations with my teammates,” Bowman said. “However, I was staying in the States that summer. After having that high, all my teammates and friends started going back to their home country, and I needed something to fill that void. I emailed Tommy Krizanovic [Armada Coach] and told him about my situation, he asked me to train and within a couple of weeks I was in the starting lineup.”
The Armada has built a name for itself. The program has a reputation of professionalism making the stakes high and adding pressure to the players’ performances.
This created an environment that Bowman wasn’t used to and that he hadn’t seen anywhere else.
“Armada had the reputation of being a pro-organization. A lot of people knew who they were so what came with that was a lot of pressure and we were expected to win every single game,” Bowman said. “If we didn’t, we knew that we let a lot of people down. It was my first time playing in front of a decent sized crowd and they sang every second of every game, whether we were winning losing or drawing.”
You would expect a player that has this many accomplishments to not be lacking in confidence, but if you have never felt like you measured up to your teammates it can be easy to feel that you don’t deserve your accomplishments.
“Playing with the Armada made me feel good about myself again and allowed me to feel confident out on the field,” Bowman said.
Soccer has a strange ability to bring you both highs and lows in the span of 90 minutes. It’s a feeling like no other. It tends to create a feeling of unity, no matter if your team is winning or losing.
“Playing Soccer gives you a feeling like nothing else I have ever experienced,” Bowman said. “The highs and lows of the game, band teammates together and you create special bonds to experience the ‘moment’ with. Being on the pitch with your buddies destroying another team is the best feeling in the world.”