LOGAN, Utah – Jayne Robison-Merrill has played in all but one game for the Aggies since arriving at Utah State in 2013.
“I’ve been super blessed,” Robison-Merrill said. “Coming in as a freshman, I felt like I had a lot to offer. I think the coaches saw that too and I was able to help out from the beginning.”
USU head coach Heather Cairns said that Robison-Merrill is successful because of the attitude she plays and practices with.
“Most successful freshmen come in coachable and willing to add layers to their game” Cairns said. “That’s what Jayne did. She’s always open to tweaking her game and getting better.”
Robison-Merrill, who is from Layton, Utah and prepped at Layton High School, said she played mostly midfield and forward during her time there but spent at every other position on the field. She said each year she’s gotten more comfortable with her midfielder position and role with the Aggies.
Her coach agreed.
“Ever since her freshman year, she’s always been solid on the attacking side of the ball,” Cairns said. “She has increased her ability to defend and it’s made a huge difference for us. She doesn’t tackle a ton but she picks off opponents’ passes. She reads the field so well, and that’s an area she has improved since her freshman year.”
Robison-Merrill’s coaches and teammates said that she’s involved in everything the team does, but doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet.
“She connects the defense to the offense,” said fellow senior Shyani Terukina. “She might not always be the assister or the goal scorer but she’s a playmaker and a game changer. We win a lot of games because of her.”
Even though Robison-Merrill does a lot of unrecognized work, she also has her fair share of accomplishments.
Last season Robison-Merrill tied the single match assist record with three against Idaho State, she totaled five assists on the year which is tied for No. 8 all-time at USU. She also ranked second on the team with five goals last season, three of which were game-winners. In her career with the Aggies, so far, Robison-Merrill has totaled 13 goals and nine assists, both of which edge on ranking on the all-time career record lists.
“If someone gets pulled out of their position, I’ll support them, I’ll cover them,” she said. “If they need someone in the box, I’m that person. If they need someone tracking an attacker, I’m that person. I just want people to count on me. I can help them, I’ll be there for them, I don’t want them to feel like they have to do it alone.”
Robison-Merrill’s personal goal of not wanting her teammates to feel alone is working.
“She’s always there in support and she’s always there for us,” Terukina said. “She’s so caring, she wants everybody to be happy and to play better, I love her.”
To go along with the on-the-field accomplishments, Robison-Merrill has earned academic all-Mountain West every season and was a Mountain West Scholar-Athlete in 2013. She was also a Joe E. and Elma Whitesides Scholar-Athlete award winner in 2013 and 2014.
This season has been one of change for Robison-Merrill off the field, she married Jay Merrill in June of 2016. She said being married has changed the way she does things, for the better.
“We only have one car so it’s kind of hard to balance our schedules,” Robison-Merrill said. “It makes it harder to travel because I have a home presence here, but I also have more off-the-field support so it’s been different in a good way.”
Robison-Merrill is majoring in business administration and said she hopes to work in the business world somewhere after she graduates from Utah State.
“I’ve thought a lot, as my senior year approached, ‘What am I going to do after soccer?’” she said. “It’s hard because my whole life I’ve been busy with soccer, what am I supposed to do now? I’m excited to figure out what else I can offer in work and hobbies.”
For now though, the team, currently first-place in the Mountain West, has plenty of soccer to be played. There are five more conference games before the Mountain West tournament kicks off on Nov. 1 in San Diego. The Aggies need Robison-Merrill to keep doing her job in order to win.
“She’s the glue for us,” Cairns said. “She makes everyone around her better. She’s the battery that keeps us going and going and going. She never stops.”
As a team, Utah State has never finished higher than fifth-place in the Mountain West, but this year, the team has higher hopes.
“I’ve been playing with these girls for a long time now,” Robison-Merrill said. “We know what we can do it’s just making sure that we do that every game and don’t take a game off.”