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International Players Finding New Homes
on BCC Women's Soccer Team
September 7, 2012 - Being thousands of miles from home in a different culture can be daunting enough. Throw in adjusting to the stresses of balancing collegiate academics and athletics and it's easy to see how things can get overwhelming.
Those are the challenges being faced by Brevard Community College's three freshmen international women's soccer players Jess Fassnidge, Sue Kumaning and Jade Rhodes. All three are Englishwomen, Fassnidge from Worcestershire, Kumaning from London and Rhodes from Bournemouth.
And those are challenges faced down by sophomore and co-captain Lois Edvardsson, a bona fide internationalist who has visited 20 countries, has siblings living outside her native Sweden and has a year in America to her credit.
BCC's international soccer players, from left: Sue Kumaning, Jess Fassnidge, Jade Rhodes and Lois Edvardsson.
And a successful year it was. Edvardsson was the leading scorer with 11 goals on the 2011 team that finished 9-4-1 and came within a goal of qualifying for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national tournament. She also finished the spring semester with a 4.0 grade point average to qualify for the President's List.
But Edvardsson's first year in America was not without adjustments, beginning with the Florida heat and humidity and extending to the American culture and the American way of playing soccer.
More on that in a minute.
"The whole culture is different, you have to adjust to that," said Edvardsson who hails from Gothenburg. "I'm still adjusting. It's just a fun part. Everything is so new. You just go along with it.
"I had never been to America before. I saw it as an opportunity to learn the language. I've always been fascinated by the USA for some reason. Everything is so big.
"This is amazing, one of my favorite places. When I first came here my initial thought was to maybe just stay for a year. Have some fun, play some soccer. But I feel like this is home, this is home to me now. I love it. I love everything."
Now she is doing her part to share the experiences with her teammates.
"I know how it is to be away from home and to experience all these new things and I hope that I can show these new girls how to adjust," she said.
For Fassnidge, Kumaning and Rhodes the adjustments have come. And they include, as they did for Edvardsson, adjusting to the different nature of American soccer. Interestingly Edvardsson said she found the American game to be more physical while the three Englishwomen said the opposite.
Either way it's all about acclimation.
"It's more physical in England," Fassnidge said. "A lot more physical. It's not a dirty game in England. If someone goes in for a tackle they'll go in for a tackle."
"We play our game (here)."
As for adjusting to life in general, Fassnidge is adapting.
"It feels like we've been here for ages," said Fassnidge who joined her teammates for the initial soccer workouts on Aug. 1. "It's like home now."
Like her countrywomen Fassnidge credited her teammates with helping her get used to America. The best advice she got to that end: Give it time.
As for Kumaning she is settling in as well after an early bout of homesickness and credits the structure of playing soccer and attending classes as helping her get comfortable.
"That's the most important thing, once I'm in a routine I don't think about the time and how long till I'm back in England," she said. "Now everything is set."
She also gave a lot of credit to her apartment mates Edvardsson, sophomore Cat Hasell, and fellow newcomers Julia Kantor, Melissa Williams and Lexi Bubley.
"Because we're all so tight it's easier to enjoy it here," she said.
Rhodes had similar sentiments about adjusting to the American game and American life.
"I feel like I need to keep myself to myself, don't react," she said about life on the field.
As for life as a whole: "I do like the lifestyle here," she said. "It's a more laid back, easy lifestyle. I'm looking forward to going home and showing off my tan."
Rhodes credited her housemates, particularly sophomore goalkeeper Shelby Savolainen, with easing her transition to America.
"I didn't know anybody," Rhodes said about her arrival. "My housemates looked after me and I guess I've just got on with Shelby real well. She's helped me a lot."
The same can be said for the internationals impact on the team as a whole.
"Internationals have added a lot on and off the field," BCC head coach Jeff Carr said. "They are very passionate about the game and it shows. And they are so entrenched in following football (soccer) it has started to rub off on our girls. They are great additions to the team."