From Denton to Scotland
Mean Green Soccer Hosts Alumni Game On Saturday
DENTON -- Where in the world is Kelsey Hodges?
After playing stints in Australia, Sweden and Seattle, Washington; the Mean Green alum and professional soccer player is now in Scotland playing in the Scottish Premier League.
Hodges, who played with North Texas from 2010-13, has a good excuse for missing the North Texas alumni game on Saturday, April 22 at 4 p.m. She has been in Scotland for the last few months playing with her latest professional team. Ever since she concluded her collegiate career with the Mean Green, Hodges has been living her dream of playing professional soccer, and she has not been afraid to travel long distances to achieve her goals.
At North Texas, Hodges was a two-time all-region selection and a three-time first-team all-conference selection. In 2013, she was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year.
MeanGreenSports.com caught up with Hodges to see how she is enjoying her latest adventure.
You were last playing in Australia. How did that journey go for you, soccer-wise and personally?
Kelsey: My time in Australia was incredible and the last-minute decision to go was one I will never regret! Soccer-wise I learned a lot from the experience. I had a very passionate and highly-regarded coach who taught me a new style of high-intensity play that I had never experienced before. He challenged me in many ways, and I came out a better player because of it. In my short five months there my teammates and I became great friends and the memories that we made will be something I cherish the most.
Outside of the soccer field, I was placed with an amazing and loving host family. They treated me like one of their own while I was there and taught me so much about life through a different lens. My host mom Fiona is originally from Sydney, AUS and host dad Hubert is a native of Holland but they met in Singapore where they lived for several years, so I got to be a part of a diverse household. Their two children Quin and Mckayla have become two of adopted siblings as well, we enjoyed many adventures together!
During my time in Melbourne, I also had the opportunity to coach an u11 girls' team and do some marketing for the youth club my team was partnered with. My u11 girls team was an awesome group of young girls, I learned more from them than they did from me I think. And we only lost one game the whole season! I also got to travel a bit around the outskirts of Melbourne on my weekends off. I saw some breath-taking views, cute koalas and wild kangaroos, and soaked up some sun on blue-water beaches! I could go on and on about my time being an Aussie, it was definitely one for the record books!
How did you end up playing in Scotland?
Kelsey: About two years ago I got in contact with David Haley, the manager (head coach) here and we've stayed in touch since then. David contacted me back in December and offered me a contract for the 2017 season.
How is life in Scotland?
Kelsey: Life in Scotland has been good so far and an easy transition. However, it is definitely bi-polar when it comes to weather, you can experience cold, wind, sun, rain all in one day or even in an hour's time! The sun has started to have a more consistent presence lately so let's hope it continues! Soccer wise: We have gotten off to a great start this season. We started back in February but are currently only four games into the season because of national team breaks. Our record in the Scottish Premier League so far is 1 win and 1 tie. We are also in the Scottish League Cup and have won both games with the semifinal round coming up at the end of April.
Life in general...has been nothing short of surreal. I live with our team captain, Kelly Clark, in a cute little flat in a suburb outside of Glasgow with a train station about a hop and skip away, giving me access to Glasgow city centre in 15 mins or all the way to Edinburgh in 40 mins time! I do not have a car here but the train makes for a fun and new way to get about!
What is a typical day or week for you?
Kelsey: A typical day for me consists of going to the gym in the morning with my two fellow American teammates at Celtic Park. During the day I enjoy a variety of things to keep me busy: watch my extensive list of Netflix shows, reading, dabbling in some cooking, and going for walks on the local nature trails if the weather permits, but then again rain never hurt anyone as I have been caught out in it a few times now! In the evening I have team training from 7-9 p.m. at a training facility, which sits about 45 minutes outside of Glasgow amongst the hills of the Scottish countryside. Not a bad backdrop to have during training sessions.
We train four nights a week with Wednesdays and Saturdays off and games on Sundays. On my days off I usually venture into the city centre of Glasgow to see the sights and grab a good cup of coffee from a local café (much better than Starbucks)!!
How does the level of play compare to the other places you have played?
Kelsey: The level of play here in Scotland is higher, players here are more technically sound than what I have experienced in the past. Everyone plays more of a possession-based game, starting with playing out of the back and then forward from there into the attack. Comparing the leagues I have played in since starting my professional career, the Scottish league is the highest so far. I am playing with and against some of the best players in Scotland who have also played for their respected national teams. It is pushing me to raise my own level of play and bring my `A' game every time, day in and day out.
Are there places you have visited or plan to visit with any time off?
Kelsey: In the three months I have been here, I have seen your basic tourist areas of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Glasgow has a wonderful atmosphere about it with many world renowned universities throughout the city, old buildings, a few jaw-dropping cathedrals, and even a cute canal that runs through the city. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and holds countless amounts of history. It's home of the Royal Mile with the massive Edinburgh Castle at one end and the Royal Palace of Holyrood at the other. Holyrood is where Queen Elizabeth stays while in town and all government offices are housed. Both cities are incredible and I still have yet to see everything.
A few weekends ago, I got the chance to make it up to Loch Lomond's National Park just outside of Glasgow. I went for the Spring Food and Drink Festival, saw some breathe taking landscape and ate way too much tasty Scottish food.
During the rest of my time here, I plan to make it up to the Highlands and Loch Ness, St. Andrews (home of golf), and the Isle of Skye. I also hope to make it down to parts of England if the soccer schedule allows.