Soccer: Carolin Engelhard’s journey to becoming a German student-athlete

Photo by Devin P. Grimes / MTSU Sidelines

Story by Calvin Smith / Sports Reporter

In some countries, the idea of mixing education and athletics isn’t a reality. For Middle Tennessee’s Carolin Engelhard, coming to the United States meant getting an opportunity Germany simply couldn’t give her.

“I had this idea to come to the U.S.,” Engelhard said. “It’s a good opportunity to combine soccer and class. In Germany, it’s only one — we only have club teams.”

Engelhard hails from Laatzen, Germany, a town directly south of Hanover in Niedersachsen. In Germany, collegiate athletics do not exist. Once you finish your schooling, you either enter the workforce, play professional club soccer or advance to university. Playing Fußball (the German term for soccer) at a high level is not a hobby that can be combined with a university education.

Engelhard wanted more options besides club soccer or an education.

An opportunity arose to play Fußball and study in the United States through video highlight tapes she put online for coaches to see. It only took a few Skype calls with Middle Tennessee Coach Aston Rhoden for her to become a Blue Raider.

“I looked on the website, and the environment looked really good. I felt like it was the right fit for me and a good opportunity,” Engelhard said. “(Rhoden) contacted me, we had two or three Skype calls, then I decided to come here.”

The decision has served her well on the field so far. She has appeared in each of MTSU’s 10 games this season, earning seven starts and 75 minutes played per game. She even chipped in an assist against Belmont in her debut as a Blue Raider.

As she adjusts to life, school and soccer in the states, Engelhard still finds time to Skype with her family every week. She only does it once per week, though, as she believes one is a good number to keep in touch without making her feel homesick.

When asked what she would bring over to the U.S. from Germany, her immediate response was her bed at home. She won’t return home to her family until the end of the semester for the Christmas season.

Though there’s still a long way to go in the season, Engelhard has cemented her place in the Blue Raider rotation with her solid play. With more playing time, she could become one of the main players to watch down the final stretch of the season.

The Blue Raiders will be back in action on Friday when they host the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at 7 p.m. at Dean A. Hayes Stadium.

For more sports stories, follow Calvin Smith (@calvin_smith33) on Twitter

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