She could not take her eyes off the clock as Team USA had a 3-0 lead against China in the bronze medal hockey game at the World University Games. “We might actually win this,” Jessie Rushing said to herself as the clock ticked down.

Rushing, from Hernando, has been competing in anything she can since she was a child. She played so many different sports that she now has trouble naming everything she had played.

“She just did what she loved,” her father Michael Rushing said. “She played on a volleyball team that made state, had a scholarship to Northwest Mississippi Community College for soccer and competed with the guys in a lot of sports.”

The clock hit all zeros and Team USA celebrated their bronze medal win against China, and Jessie could finally take her eyes off the clock.

“I was just another game to me,” Jessie said. “But I was really nervous because it was for a medal.”

Jessie is a graduate student at Adrian College where they are ranked No. 2 in the country in American Collegiate Hockey Association Division 1 women’s ice hockey. She and two teammates just played in the Winter World University Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

“It’s awesome, profound, and special,” Michael said. “I’m amazed how a girl from Mississippi got to where she is.”

Growing up, she did not play much softball, but she did play baseball with the boys. She played softball one year and was always looking over at the baseball fields wishing she was there, Michael said.

Bridgette Rushing, Jessie’s mom, never had a problem with her daughter playing with the boys because she knew Jessie could handle herself and compete.

“We always had that conversation,” Bridgette said. “As long as she could hold her own, she could do it.”

Jessie did not start playing hockey until the sixth grade. A few years later she played high school and competitive hockey with the boys because there were no girls’ teams in the area.

“I didn’t have an option,” Jessie said. “I didn’t know girls’ hockey was a thing.”

She played for the Memphis Blues for until a girls’ team from Nashville brought her on. Then she took a step into a higher division to play for the St. Louis Jr. Blues. The Memphis Blues is a Tier Two team and St. Louis is Tier Three.

“I knew if I wanted to play for a college that I had to play for a Tier Three team,” Jessie said. “So I went to St. Louis.”

Now that the University games are finished, Jessie is finishing up her master’s in sports management. She has one year of eligibility left for hockey and plans to hang up her skates when finished.

“It’s been awesome playing and doing what I love,” Jessie said. “But I’ll probably be finished after that.”

Jon Bell is a Sports Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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