Jacqueline Smyth displays heart in strong season for Omaha expansion franchise

As the Omaha Heart looks to build on their inaugural season, one of the key building blocks for the franchise is Jacqueline Smyth. Know n affectionately as the Wolverine, she contributed primarily at the linebacker position in 2013. While she measures in at only 5’2”, she is a spitfire with raw energy. Along with wide receiver Morgan Anderson, both were also LFL All-Fantasy East selections.

Image obtained from Twitter

Image obtained from Twitter

Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Smyth has the heart of a giant. Along with her teammates, she has participated in ringing door bells for the Salvation Army, food and diaper drives along with fund raising efforts. Her role as an athletic humanitarian extended to an initiative entitled Hearts Share Love, in which the squad would give back to the community on a monthly basis.

In showing respect for their fans, Smyth and the Heart also allowed fans to provide suggestions through social media. One such suggestion resulted in a fundraiser for the Buford Foundation. Other great events have included Big Dreams Weekend and a Walk for the American Heart Association. In the off-season, Smyth and her teammates played a co-ed flag football game in a show of support for UNO’s Sigma Kappa Beta Omega’s philanthropy for Alzheimer’s research.

Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/omahaheart/player?id=3

Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/omahaheart/player?id=3

Her courageous performance on defense was one of the reasons that the Omaha fans won the 8th Man Award for Best Crowd. The finest hour in her young career came when she was part of the first win in franchise history. The Heart’s shutout over the previously undefeated Jacksonville Breeze was attributed to a team effort.

Dubbed the biggest upset in LFL history, Omaha prevailed by a remarkable 8-0 score. The low score was fitting as the Breeze and the Heart were the top defenses over the season. While the Breeze has finished with the league’s top-ranked defense in 2013, Omaha was nothing short of sparkling. Led by Smyth, the Omaha D allowed only 66 points and 123 total yards per game. In addition, Omaha’s pass defense was tops in the league, allowing only 36.8 passing yards per game.

Coming off the field during the biggest upset in LFL history (Image from: http://www.lflus.com/games/jacksonville-breeze-vs-omaha-heart/attachment/directorleague-photographer-198)

Coming off the field during the biggest upset in LFL history (Image from: http://www.lflus.com/games/jacksonville-breeze-vs-omaha-heart/attachment/directorleague-photographer-198)

Although Smyth was deserving of consideration for the 2013 LFL Defensive Player of the Year Award, her performance provided the team with confidence. Tied for third in the league in quarterback sacks, she would lead all Heart players in that category. Her 23.5 total tackles ranked fifth in league, averaging a sparkling 5.9 tackles per game. Of note, her 5.9 tackles per game was the finest in the league.

Perhaps the most impressive stat for Smyth was that 20 of her tackles were solo efforts, accounting for 24% of team’s output. Second best on the Heart in tackles was Shawnte Bunting with 13. In addition, 11 of Smyth’s tackles were for a loss, which was more than half of Omaha’s output as a defensive unit. Said tackles resulted in 33 lost yards for opponents.

Having emerged as one of the top performers on defense, she is poised to become one of the league’s next superstars. As Nebraska is a football state, there is no question that Smyth and her spectacular teammates equally deserve getting the opportunity to share in the gridiron glory. While the postseason is the next goal for the Heart, there is no question that Smyth will be likely leading the way.

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