Flashback Friday with MADE Ambassador Niekie Pellens

Voetbal beurs AmerikaFussball Stipendium USA Niekie

This week, we will highlight the college experience of one of our Dutch agents, Niekie Pellens. Niekie, a former client of MADE Scholarships, plays soccer for Inter Milan in the women’s Serie B in Italy. Read below about her experience with the recruiting process and her time in college.

Niekie started her college career on a soccer scholarship for the University of Wisconsin Parkside. From there, she transferred to the University of Missouri in Kansas City where she graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration Marketing degree in May 2017. During her college soccer career, she was recognized multiple times including First Team NSCAA All-Region, First Team Daktronics All-Region and First Team All-Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC), MVP award 2016, Defensive player of the year and many other.

When Niekie returned to The Netherlands she started playing for VV Alkmaar in the Women’s Premier League in The Netherlands. This season she made a transfer to Inter Milan and already achieved promotion to the Serie A! She’s looking forward to sharing about her experiences and answering all questions about college sports in the USA.

Niekie, could you tell us a bit about your background?
I have been playing soccer at my local soccer club since I was 6 years old. At 15, I started playing for the CTO team, which is a program made by the Dutch Royal Soccer Federation to prepare young girls for the Dutch Women’s Premier League.

In 2012 you decided to pursue your dream to play college soccer in America. What were your reasons to take this step?
I have always had the dream to become a professional soccer player in the United States. After I graduated from high school, I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity to go to the United States and play college soccer in the United States.

Could you tell us a bit about how you experienced the recruiting process and what were some of the biggest challenges during the recruiting process for you?
It was a very pleasant experience for me. I talked to Dennis on Skype a few times and even got to meet him since he was in The Netherlands during the process. It was very clear what I had to do to get started and figure out what I was looking for in a team and school. After Dennis sent out my soccer video footage to coaches, I talked to many of them and decided to go visit four different schools. I ended up choosing University of Wisconsin Parkside to start in Fall of 2012. My biggest challenge was passing the SAT and TOEFL tests.

You started your college career at the University of Wisconsin Parkside (NCAA division 2), what made you decide to choose this university?
I was fortunate enough to visit four different schools during my Spring break before I would start college. I talked to the coach Troy Fabiano several times before I came to visit. Once I got to the United States and I had my official visit, I stayed with some of the girls on campus. The team was very nice and I liked the way I got coached by them and Troy during my try-out. UWP played at the highest level possible for me at that moment, due to my school grades, so next to having a good experience with meeting the team I knew I would develop best if I played with them.

You eventually transferred and finished your college career at the university of Missouri -Kansas City (NCAA Division I). Could you tell us what made you decide to go to this university?
To be able to even qualify for the Dutch National 1 st Team and Premier League I knew I had to play at the highest level in the United States. After 2.5 great years at Parkside I decided I wanted a new challenge and transferred to UMKC. The reason I chose this school was because I, once again, spoke with the coach and liked the way he made his program work at this school. They also had a very good business school which I liked since that is what I studied during my college time.

What is in your eyes the biggest difference between NCAA division 1 and NCAA division 2?
The biggest difference between Division 1 and Division 2 is the way they play soccer. During my Division 2 time we based our game plays more on long balls and the speed we had up front but once I went to play Division 1, I learned that they played more technical and tactical during their games.

Something else I learned is that it doesn’t necessarily matter whether you play Division 1 or Division 2 or any other Division. There are good teams in every division. The Division depends on the size of the school and not necessarily the level of the team.

You were studying and living with athletes while you were in college. Can you share a little bit about your experience?
I decided to live on campus all of the years I went to college. I lived with my teammates, which was something the coach decided but for which I was very thankful at the end. We all had the same schedule and traveled at the same time, and next to that it is very fun to live with your teammates and best friends.

How was your experience balancing your class schedule with practice and competition?
It was very good. The athletic department of the university assigned all incoming student athletes an advisor who would meet with us every week to discuss our classes, homework, and soccer schedule to help us be successful both inside and outside of the classroom. It is the discipline you have yourself that pushes you to do both, your sport and school work, and get the best results possible.

How well did college prepare you for a professional career in soccer?
It prepared me very well for the professional soccer league that I am currently in. I gained a lot of knowledge from my different coaches in the United States. I played a lot of different soccer styles over the years and had different roles in the teams, from being red-shirted to senior captain.

What are your future goals for your soccer career?
At some point I would love to play for a big club like Manchester City or Barcelona in Europe. I would also like to play for the Dutch National Team.

Do you have any advice for young motivated European athletes who are thinking about studying in the U.S.?
I would definitely say that they have to try. It is so much fun and I honestly had the best time of my life out in the States, playing the sport I love and being able to graduate Cum Laude with a Business degree.

What advice would you give young players who are thinking about turning professional after college?
Always have a goal. The road might seem long but if you believe and try your best every day you will get to where you want to be. I will give you a quote that I go by, I guess you can call it a motto, “HOLD THE VISION, TRUST THE PROCESS”. Meaning, as long as you give it your all, things will work out your way.

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