NSSA Stories: Søren Ilsøe’s trip to the USA.

Back in 2021, an email arrived in our inbox from a young man who was curious about college sports
We replied to the best of our ability and asked a few questions about who he was and what he did.

His name was Søren and he answered that he was 20 years old.
He was studying for an HD, had a job at a well-known consultancy firm, a nice apartment, a cute girlfriend and an important role at OKS in the Danish league.
Søren’sanswer made us smile.
Why was he interested in college in the US?

The love of football

Søren had been playing soccer since he learned to walk.
He had started playing elite football at a young age and had spent much of his youth playing for Esbjerg FB, where he had fought his way up through the years.
There were 13 appearances in the U19 League and playing time in the UEFA Youth League, but the final step towards a professional senior contract in the first team failed to materialize.
Søren had therefore stepped back a bit from football and started focusing on life off the pitch.
Now he was studying and working – and playing football on the side.
It was an upheaval when it had always been the other way around.
Football first. Everything else after that.

Despite a great life here in Denmark, Søren just really loved his sport.
And especially in the world of football, you’re not getting any younger. You have X number of years where your body can really keep up at a high level.

Søren in action for Northeastern University.

That’s why Søren reached out to us.
Football was going to be a bigger part of his life again, but he didn’t want to compromise on education and future opportunities.
College in the US offers exactly this opportunity. A fluid combination of elite sport and higher education.
No compromises and the opportunity for both sporting and academic success; if you’re willing to work for it.
Søren had no doubts. He wanted to be a student athlete in the US.

Danish Student Athlete in Boston.

We started our college process with Søren shortly afterwards.
This process can take anywhere from 3 months to a year and culminates in one or more scholarship offers from colleges and universities in the US.

Søren had great grades, a lot of good video and is generally a pleasant and ambitious young person. Our network of colleges and universities think so too.
As a result, he had a number of great offers, but chose to accept

Northeastern University

which is located in Boston and plays in NCAA Division 1.

A steep development curve.

It didn’t take Søren long to adapt to the new environment in the big city of Boston.
He only needed 3 games and from there he was a regular in the starting lineup in midfield.
In a short time, Søren grew into a high profile status and had a great fall in his first season as a Student Athlete. He was even awarded a spot on the ALL-CAA Rookie Team, which honors the top 11 freshmen in the given college ranks.

Off the field, things are also moving fast.
Before Søren went to Northeastern University, he was already working on the second part of his HD education in Denmark. It could not be transferred and merged with the US bachelor’s degree. Alongside both football and studying in the US, he also finishes his Danish HD in the evening hours.

One of Søren’s goals for the 2021 fall season for the Northeastern Huskies.

Soren had only been with the Northeastern Huskies for six months when his coaching staff was recruited by the University of Connecticut – a prestigious NCAA Division 1 university with a great football program.
It was the same coaching team that had recruited Søren in the first place, so the immediate change didn’t seem optimal.

…Until Coach Chris Gbandi reached out to him and told him that they wanted Søren to come to the University of Connecticut and be a part of the roster they were about to build. UCONN is a true powerhouse in college football, and while the first six months in Boston had been fantastic, the decision wasn’t difficult

New day, new challenge.

Cut to a sunny but cold February day in early 2022 at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.
UCONN narrowly loses 0-1 to Georgetown University in a game attended by 2500 people.
It’s Søren’s debut match. He starts inside and plays all 90 minutes.
He does the same for the next 15 games. He even plays the most minutes of anyone in the squad (1315 minutes) during the season and is from day 1 a player who makes a difference.

- Hi, this is New York Red Bulls.

After first proving himself at Northeastern University in NCAA Division 1 and even making the step up to UCONN as a player in NCAA Division 1’s conference, the Big East, one of the strongest conferences in the United States, Søren was a familiar name in college soccer.

This led to a weekend trip to New York, where Søren was invited to a tryout with the New York Red Bulls, who play in the MLS.

Contracts in AB.

As with several other Danish clubs in recent times, Akademisk Boldklub was acquired by an American investor group called Five Castles Football Group LCC at the end of 2022. With their American background, the owners already had their eye on Søren due to his achievements at college level in the US.

In January 2023, Søren could therefore sign his first professional contract with AB, which plays in the 2nd division and has its home ground at Gladsaxe Stadium.
At the time of writing, Søren has made a great return to Danish football and played in his debut match against Esbjerg IF – his former childhood club.

In a year and a half, Søren went from the Danish league to professional soccer in the 2nd division.
He completed an HD while reaching 6 semesters that he was able to bring to Denmark, where he is now studying Business Administration at Copenhagen Business School.

Hard work. Nothing else.