Beyond the Playbook: UWS soccer program blends local and international talent
The UWS Men’s and Women’s soccer teams are the undisputed champs of the UMAC. This past weekend, the men won their 7th UMAC championship in a row, and the women won their third. Behind the success, however, is a melting pot of cultures and friendships.
“It’s very interesting being an American and being the minority on the team,” said Karsten Kletti, Senior midfielder for the Yellowjackets.
On the men’s side, player hail from all over the world, including England, Brazil, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Wales, and the United States.
For some, playing in the black and yellow is their first taste of the American experience, and it can be a tough transition. However, year in and year out, the Yellowjackets make it work.
“I think that the different perspectives have been really good for our squad,” said Head Coach Joe Mooney. “It challenges guys in a different way. It challenges their thinking and challenges their approach to the game, to the team dynamic, to everything.”
“We have a melting pot of different cultural influences of the sport in our team, which is amazing. So much fun,” added Kletti.
On the women’s side, the roster composition is a completely different story. All but three players on a roster of 28 players come from either Minnesota or Wisconsin.
While they don’t necessarily have the benefit of worldly perspectives from their teammates, they have a luxury that not many teams have.
“Growing up, I played with a lot of these girls in club soccer,” said Niya Wilson, the Senior Forward who grew up in Superior. “It’s been super cool to be able to grow up, play together, build chemistry throughout all the years and then end up going to the same college.”
Head Coach Allison DeGroot certainly enjoys her team’s chemistry, as they finished this year with a 16-5-1 record.
“They have an idea of where each other are going to be. They have an idea of what style they want to play, they have an idea of how one might react in a given moment. So there is a fluidity to the way we play because of that. We’re super lucky to have that.”
Whether it’s recruiting players from thousands of miles away or just down the road, UWS has undoubtedly created something special.
“I think the moments I remember are honestly more of the moments off the field,” said Wilson. “I’ve made some of my best friends, and I know that we’ll have connections for the rest of our lives.”