WPL Player of the Week: Glendale’s Jeanna Beard

Glendale wrested a 27-24 victory away from ORSU during week two of the Women's Premier League (WPL), and completed the feat in the 79th minute of play. For the second week in a row, Glendale head coach Mark Bullock pointed to Jeanna Beard as a standout performer, and her efforts in Portland earned the new hooker Player of the Week honors.

Beard had spent her WPL career with the D.C. Furies and resided in the centers. But once she moved to Glendale for the 2014 season, she found work in an unfamiliar field: the front row.

"I actually played hooker for a hot second with the D.C. Furies, but I wasn't ready for the change yet," Beard confessed. "Things just didn't click, that is, I was so bad at it."

Retirement and injuries opened up the hooker position, and Beard bid farewell to the backline.

"The change was scary, but smooth," Beard said of the second go-around. "Scary in that I put a lot of pressure on myself to be good at something right away; smooth in that I have Kitt Ruiz and Jamie Burke to coach me, and Sarah Chobot and Shilo [Kristen Shalosky] to be my starting props, who are always phenomenal in the scrums. There is an immeasurable amount of knowledge in the entire pack throughout the club - beyond my wildest dreams, actually!"

Beard debuted at hooker against San Diego in week one, impressed in the scrum, and was plucky in the breakdowns. She scored a nice try against the Surfers, showcasing her comfortability with ball in hand.

ORSU was always going to be a tough game. The Jesters were riding a 46-17 win over Berkeley and playing a second-straight weekend at home. That home-field advantage cannot be overlooked, but Beard was more interested in what actually transpired on the pitch.

"ORSU put on a laser show with their sick offloads and support lines, and we didn't do our job on defense," Beard pared it down.

But Beard did do a good job on defense, and it's another aspect of her game that Bullock praised.

"I think I was more of a force on defense against ORSU - compared to San Diego - because I got into the groove of being 'allowed' to take that defensive position next to the breakdown. As a back, we were taught to concentrate on the first receiver and/or wait to get pushed out by forwards. I wasn't quite sure about how I did in the San Diego game, but the ORSU game, I felt like I was ready to stop those strong, big forwards of theirs."

Beard is growing into her newfound position, and she's working diligently to represent the Eagle-laden pack well. She's been refining her lineout throws with an obstacle course-like apparatus at home, although she doesn't expect to unseat the precise Jojo Kitlinski this season. Do, however, expect Beard to become more prominent around the pitch, as she moves from the set piece into open field with the grace of a former back.