SPRINGFIELD, Mo–Oh the difference a year can make. Last year Kickapoo soccer fell in the class 4 sectional finals. This year they are on to the quarterfinals. Thanks to their big difference, 6’3″ foreign exchange student Vegard Wilhelmsen.
“I’m from Norway, the north of Europe. I live in the south way of Norway, close by a big city called Kristiansand,” said Vegard Wilhelmsen.
Wilhelmsen wanted to experience life in the United States and found Kickapoo high school.
“I had some emails previously from his host family just about inquiring about playing at Kickapoo. We just kind of let him know standard procedure. First day of school he shows up, and he still has to get his required practices for us, which is 14. He gets his practices in and then we slowly started working him in,” said coach Phil Hodge.
Playing soccer wasn’t a problem, Wilhelmsen has done that since he was five.
“I came at a really hot day, I think it was like 95 degrees my first practice here, and we had to run laps. It was really hard. I was doubting if I actually wanted to play but I decided to go on and I am thankful for that now,” said Wilhelmsen.
Then there is adjusting to the language.
“My head hurts sometimes listening to english all the time, I’m translating it to Norweigan in my head sometimes,” said Wilhelmsen.
But of course soccer has translated just fine. Wilhelmsen leads the team in goals with 13. 2 of them coming from the Chiefs sectional win over Nixa.
“Coach set up a brilliant tactic and we followed it and executed it brilliantly. I think we deserved to win and I am really happy we came out on top,” said Wilhelmsen.
“He is just very technical on the ball. His soccer mind is above average, his skill set is above average. He’s left footed and he is 6’2″ or 6’3″. He is just doing a good job. He’s a coachable kid, works hard, has a great personality, fun to be around,” said coach Hodge.