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From Denmark to the Pros: An International Goalkeeper's Journey

International college goalkeeper Katrine Thisgaard

We are back again with another great goalkeeping interview! In our latest post, we got the opportunity to speak with Danish goalkeeping standout Katrine Thisgaard. The former Hofstra University goalkeeper shares all the details about her journey from playing soccer in Europe to adjusting in the college game. The current Wingate netminder shares some really great advice for aspiring young goalkeepers!

1. You're originally from Denmark. What is the youth soccer system like over there compared to the United States?

In Denmark, we only play club soccer but there are many opportunities to try out on teams at all levels. In Denmark, it is much more affordable to play youth soccer than it is in the US (around $300 annually). Also, Denmark is a very small country so away games might only be 30 minutes away.

2. What made you decide to come to the United States to further your education and soccer career as an international goalkeeper?

International goalkeeper Katrine Thisgaard

The set up of universities are a really unique opportunity to combine soccer and school that we don’t have in Denmark because we only play club soccer; which makes it hard to combine soccer and school as you get older. First I decided to try the United States as a gap year before starting university in Denmark but my experience has been fantastic and now I just want to finish and get the most out of this opportunity.

3. You spent your freshman year at Hofstra University. What was the adjustment like both on and off the field in a new country?

It was definitely hard to come to the United States because of the language barrier, getting familiar with the school system, and still trying to balance soccer and school. I also came right after Covid, which meant that a lot of the classes still were online and the fall soccer schedule was pushed to the spring. This definitely made it a lot harder to acclimate because you don’t get to meet new people as you usually would in your classes, and obviously it was hard not being able to practice and play games as I am used to. But everyone was very helpful with trying to get me settled and helped me figure out how things worked.

4. You decided to transfer to Wingate University after your freshman year at Hofstra. What led you to make that decision?

I think a mix of the things from the question above led to me not thriving at Hofstra which also showed on the field. I really came to the United States to improve as much as possible in soccer and since I felt that I was not improving much, I decided to enter the transfer portal in May at the end of my first year. Once in the portal, I came in contact with Jack Vundum (head coach at Wingate University) and I was very interested in Wingate because of the way they play the game. I made the decision to transfer fairly quickly after this to give myself a new chance in the United States.

International goalkeeper Katrine Thisgaard

5. You transferred from a division 1 university to a division 2 school. What do you think are some of the biggest differences between the two?

One of the biggest differences that I have noticed between D1 and D2 universities is the way that the teams play the game. This may vary around the country and with different teams but the experience that I had was that Hofstra was a lot of kick and run, whereas at Wingate it is more possession based which is what I am more used to from Denmark. Other than that, there is more money at D1 schools so the facilities are often bigger.

6. You've played every game at Wingate university since transferring. What do you think is the biggest contributor to your consistency and success?

I think one of the biggest contributor to my consistency and success has been to keep working hard every practice because I knew that if I wanted to improve as a goalkeeper it wouldn’t be in the games as much as it is going to happen in practice. I think another thing that has helped me a lot is to treat every practice as a game and compete with myself and my teammates. I am very competitive so that definitely help keep me motivated to keep going.

7. How do you balance the demands of school with your busy athletic schedule?

It can be very challenging to balance school and soccer, especially in season, but I think that I have learned over the years to be disciplined and schedule out my day so that I know when it is time to sit down and focus on school work. Another thing that I find very helpful is to write down all assignments that I have to complete so that I know that I am not going to miss anything.

International goalkeeper Katrine Thisgaard

8. What advice do you have for international soccer players interested in coming to the United States to play soccer?

My biggest advise is to just do it! I have had an amazing experience and would definitely recommend doing it. Just be open-minded because it is different from home but it is a great opportunity to be independent and to experience a different part of the world.

9. What are your long-term goals in soccer?

My long-term goal in soccer is to play professionally, potentially in Denmark but it would also be cool if it happened somewhere else in Europe as well.

10. Denmark or the United States, favorite country to live in and why?

Favorite country to live in, I'm going to have to say Denmark. I think there are just a lot of things that are easier to do in Denmark, like paying taxes. But also the food quality is a lot better in Denmark than it is in the United States. I think that United States has been a great experience and I have loved living here the last couple of years, but Denmark just feels more like home.


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