Foreign athletes take over West Coast

At La Playa Stadium, international students from left Fanny Johannson, Emilie Nettyberg, Mike Peterson, and Adam Colton come together to represent a variety of sports of football, soccer, and Golf on Nov. 21.

Katelyn Biedrzycki

At La Playa Stadium, international students from left Fanny Johannson, Emilie Nettyberg, Mike Peterson, and Adam Colton come together to represent a variety of sports of football, soccer, and Golf on Nov. 21.

Jameson Swain, Channels Staff

As fall semester sports come to an end, City College athletics have experienced much success in a large part due to the wave of international exchange athletes who have taken the West Coast by storm.

Whether it’s on the field or on the course, four athletes have provided leadership and a presence that stemmed from a decision to leave their respective countries to experience something new.

Their competitive edge has brought them halfway across the world to make a name for themselves in a sport-rich country where the possibility for success is much greater than that of their countries overseas.

Women’s golfer Fanny Johannson, football running back Mike Petersen, men and women soccer stars Adam Colton and Emilie Netteberg have all received personal accolades for their efforts this past season.  But, the “family” aspect these players have made with their teammates is more than any award could ever do justice.

With their real families more than 5,000 miles away, these four athletes have leaned on teammates and established bonds that no cultural differences could get in between.  City College provides opportunities for all of its students to succeed after their time as a Vaquero has come and gone, but the diversity of the campus provides a different aspect that students may not get to experience once they leave Santa Barbara.

 

Fanny Johannson, Women’s Golf 

The 2013 Women’s Golf Individual State Champion from Halmstad, Sweden came to Santa Barbara because she wanted to experience California and she has family here.  In Sweden there is no real opportunity to play golf at a competitive level in college because schools don’t offer sports outside of clubs.

The biggest difference for Johansson, both on and off the golf course, was the laid back attitude she experienced as opposed to the seriousness in Sweden.  Back home golf is an individual sport, the fact she was able to play on a team was much more unique.  Even members of opposing teams took a general interest in seeing one another succeed.

“I really like it here,” said Johnasson.  “The team spirit is different than in Sweden because everybody is rooting for you when you’re golfing.”

The WSC Player of the Year for women’s golf led the Vaqueros to a 69-3 overall record and a perfect 32-0 conference record en route to the state championship.

“We [the team] had been talking about the championship a lot and to be able to do that was really special,” she said.

Johnasson’s success this past year has provided her with offers from four-year universities to continue her golf career and take it to the next level.  A decision looms as to whether or not the freshman will return next fall for her sophomore campaign.

 

Mike Petersen, Football

The sophomore running back from Nykoebing Falster, Denmark helped the Vaqueros to their best record in 17 years; finishing the season 7-3 and just one win out of a bowl bid.  Petersen was named to the American Pacific Conference Second Team and the Vaqueros leading rusher.

“It’s been the best decision of my life to come out here,” said Petersen.

Although American football is growing in Denmark, Petersen knew his best shot of making it would be to come to the United States and play. On the recommendation of a friend back in Denmark, Petersen came to City College to follow his dreams of playing football.

“I knew kind of what I was getting into when I was coming out here but I love adventures,” said Petersen.  “When I heard I could come out here I was here in a month, month and a half.”

His prowess on the field also transitions into the classroom.  Majoring in kinesiology and physical education, he remains focused on getting the grades and making himself eligible to transfer to hopefully a Division I or Division I –AA school to play football.

The team camaraderie and the “family” aspect of these last two seasons has been the best part of Petersen’s experience at City College, namely a few big wins over rivals.  As opposed to the competitive Danish culture, Petersen said having people encourage you to follow your dreams here has been the biggest difference between the two countries.

“Being with the football team has given me a lot.  I get sad when I think about I won’t play again with this group of guys,” he said.

 

Emilie Netteberg, Women’s Soccer

The freshman defender from Birkeroed, Denmark came to Santa Barbara in large part because of a bad day she was having back home.

“I was having a [bad] day and was walking in Copenhagen and saw a poster that said ‘Study Abroad’,” she said. “So I went in and they showed me a picture of the stadium and school and I signed up right then.”

Netteberg was a Western State Conference North First Team selection for her vital defense for the Vaqueros.

The biggest change of pace for Netteberg has been the open-mindedness and easygoing, helpful attitude of Americans.

“People from Scandinavia are very reserved and not doing anything.  It’s definitely not like that here. I’ve been so impressed with the international students office.  They have helped so much and been so open to questions.  It’s been the biggest help,” she said.

“I’m sad I’m going home but at the same time I know I will be happy back home too.”

Her friends and family have made her feel a part of something here, something she has been grateful for.

 

Adam Colton, Men’s Soccer

Hailing from Sheffield, England, Colton grew up around the corner from the oldest soccer team in the world, but came to America as he sees the game evolving here.  Colton was named the men’s soccer Western State Conference Player of the Year.

“The competitive edge is quite similar to that of back home,” he said. “If you have to kick somebody to win, you do. “

Colton is likely transferring to a four-year school next fall to continue his soccer career.  He is talking to Division I schools such as San Diego State University and the University of Hawaii.

“Santa Barbara has exceeded expectations, blown them out of the water actually,” he said.  “I’ve been able to broaden my experience and mature.”

The Vaqueros men’s soccer team finished 11-7 on the year.

“We’re a very close knit team.  After all the things we’ve been through this year, we wanted to prove a point and I feel we did.”