From Denton To Sweden - An Update
Kelsey Hodges Has Spent The Last Three Months Playing Professionally Oversees
While North Texas soccer is gearing up for its fall opener on August 21, former Mean Green great Kelsey Hodges is thriving as a professional soccer player oversees in Sweden.
Hodges, who played at North Texas from 2010-13, has dreamed of playing professional soccer since she was a little girl. Despite limited opportunities in the United States for women to play professionally, Hodges has stuck steadfast to her goal and was rewarded earlier this year with a contract to play in a professional league in Sweden.
Despite living in a foreign country for the first time and dealing with a language barrier, Hodges is flourishing on and off the soccer field. She has started and played in every game so far, and leads the team with seven assists. Even though she plays in the back, she currently has four goals, two of them off penalty kicks. The Denton, Texas native has also found time to explore Sweden and take a trip to Scotland.
MeanGreenSports.com caught up with Hodges to hear how the first half of her season went and her goals for the future.
I saw that you recently extended your contract to continue playing in Sweden. Can you tell us how the first half of the season went soccer-wise?
Kelsey: In the first half of our season, we had a rough start, losing the first four games, but we managed to bounce back with a six-game win streak. We also won our last game of the spring season, ending with a 7-5 record. As the season has progressed we have grown more as a team and started to play better together; the chemistry is finally starting to kick in! For me personally, I think I’ve done well throughout the first three months here; my team and coaching staff have really welcomed me and are always positive about my play. Adapting to a new soccer culture is a challenge, but I’ve learned a lot and have improved as a player and leader on the field.
What was your transition like to playing with a foreign team? Were there any hiccups? Any language barriers?
Kelsey: I think the biggest transition with playing for Ravasens IK is the language barrier. All my teammates speak great English but they still talk in Swedish on the field of course. I have learned a few key words in Swedish to use while on the field since I play center back which is a leader position. I do however, speak mostly in English and my teammates understand me just fine. As a back four we have started to work really well together.
What are your impressions of Sweden been? Have you been able to travel? What places have you been to?
Kelsey: My impressions of Sweden so far is that it’s very beautiful and reminds me a lot of Seattle, Washington. The town I live in is pretty small and sits in the countryside of Sweden so there is tons of farmlands and nature trails to explore. It rains pretty often here as well and something I’m still adjusting to.
I have gotten to travel around a little bit; I’ve been to Stockholm a few times. It’s an awesome place, very touristy and a busy city atmosphere but also with a lot of old history, historic buildings, the royal palace, and tons of sea life since the city sits on tons of little islands. I’ve also been to Karlstad and Orebro, two bigger towns that sit about 45 minutes from my town.
I also had the privilege of visiting Scotland on my two-week summer break. It was absolutely amazing! I visited Glasgow and Edinburgh. There is so much history and tons of things to see and do; it’s also a very beautiful country! I also got a chance to visit St. Andrews, the home of golf, while the British Open was going on. I think that is probably my favorite moment so far; it was breathtaking to see the Old Course in person and watch some of the great pro golfers tee off on Hole 1.
How has your team been doing? How is it similar/different to playing with the Mean Green?
Kelsey: My team has been doing great and we continue to improve and grow as a team each week. We started off the second half of our season by winning the DM Cup Championship, which is a regional tournament that we have been playing in throughout the season. Our first league game back is August 1. It’s similar to playing with the Mean Green since I play with a variety of ages. My youngest teammate is 16 and the oldest is 26 so there’s a 10-year age gap but it’s great how we can still come together and play at a high level.
One of the differences is the style of play over here. We don’t have as much speed on this team as I did at North Texas so we play more possession through the middle of the field rather than down the line and direct play.
What has this overall experience been like for you?
Kelsey: The overall experience has been so great! It’s been way better than I expected it to be, I have met so many great people and made so many new friends. I’ve learned so much about a different culture and a different style of living; it’s something that I will have with me for the rest of my life. I have also learned so much about myself along the way and have become not only a better player but a better person from this experience. Being so far from home has been very tough on me at times but every minute has been worth it and will be something wonderful to look back on later in life.
Kelsey: My future plans are to return home to Texas in October once my contract ends with Ravasens IK. I plan to play again next year, hopefully somewhere in Sweden again or in another European country. My goal is to move up to the next league in Sweden; Elitettan or Damallsvenskan.
What are the things you miss about Denton? Texas?
Kelsey: I definitely miss my friends and family the most! But that’s an obvious answer. The biggest thing I miss about Denton is the downtown square. It’s one of my favorite hangout spots and I can’t wait to eat at the Chestnut Tree or LSA Burger again and grab a coffee at Jupiter House. Texas wise, I think I just miss being in my home state and the summer part of the year on the lake and enjoying outdoor activities with my friends and family…but I do not miss the heat!! I also really miss Starbucks, Chick fil a, Chipotle, Texas BBQ and Mexican food!!
From Denton to Sweden - Part 1