Ex-Isselerin and her exciting time in the USA
Oskaloosa/Maring Joy Pagel lives her American dream in the USA. The soccer player made it to William Penn University in Iowa with a scholarship. To do this, the 18-year-old not only had to leave her homeland, but also her comfort zone.
The tranquil small town of Oskaloosa in Iowa has around 12,000 inhabitants. For the next four years, the US state in the Midwest will be the home of Joy Pagel from the small wine town of Maring (Bernkastel-Wittlich district). The 18-year-old has been studying psychology there at William Penn University for four months. This was made possible by a football scholarship, for which the defensive midfielder had already applied in 2020. Pagel became aware of this through a guest player at her hometown club TuS Issel. “Klara Gorges from TSG Hoffenheim kept fit with us and told me about her scholarship,” the student recalls during her visit home around the turn of the year. “I thought it was really cool and always wanted to go to the USA anyway.”
So Pagel dealt with various agencies well before she graduated from high school and then got the feedback that she had a very good chance of getting a scholarship. Initially, the sporting statistics on paper were decisive – and at least she was able to score points with appearances in the U17 Bundesliga. Finally, the soccer player had to create a profile for herself, have her German certificates translated and also upload video material. “But since we never filmed my games and Corona was also, it was very difficult.” The solution: Through the agency, Joy was able to take part in a total of three showcases in Saarbrücken, Lippstadt and Frankfurt, where the games were filmed and then turned into a highlight -Video were edited together. This was made available to the trainers of the US universities. After two language tests and having passed the Abitur, there was only one thing for Pagel to do: wait for an offer.
The native of Moselle had to be patient for almost half a year before the first positive news came from the United States. “I had my doubts beforehand and thought nothing more would come.” In December, she finally received the offer from her current university in Iowa, and a few more offers followed later from Texas.
Pagel has been living with another fellow student in a “dormroom” on the campus of William Penn University since August 3rd. The 18-year-old has to share the bathroom with 14 other students, which is not always easy, especially as a freshman. The first week in particular was a challenge: “It was a culture shock for me, and I first had to get used to the language and the system.”
In the meantime, however, she has settled in well, even if the food in particular leaves a lot to be desired from her point of view. “It’s practically impossible to eat healthily,” says Joy, looking critically at the high-calorie menu in the American university canteen. Things are going well for the student, both athletically and academically: Pagel currently has an average grade of 1.2 and is one of the regular players in her team.
However, the player first had to fight for this status. “Right at the beginning, the coach told me that I would be in the second team.” But that’s no reason for her to give up: “I said: I don’t accept that and I’ll do everything to get into the first team. That only took two weeks.” In the athletic field in particular, the differences to German football are clearly noticeable. In general, however, the level can be compared to the regional league.
In addition to your studies, you have to train every day, and there are often two games a week – sometimes with away trips of up to five hours. In the past season, however, things did not go so well for the team and the playoffs were missed. “We have good individual players, but as a team it doesn’t work that well yet. We do so many passing exercises, but you don’t see that in the game.”
She gets support from home, her parents watch every game live on TV. This is possible because all games are streamed from the university. Mother Annie is impressed by the path her daughter has taken: “As a teenager, Joy always struggled with homesickness. That’s why we were surprised when she told us that she wanted to study in the USA.” For Joy herself, however, the decision proved to be the right one: “Living outside your comfort zone is what really gets you ahead. You shouldn’t be afraid and should always broaden your horizons. In the past three months I have learned more than in my entire school days.”
After overcoming the first hurdles, she is now striving for even greater tasks: After two years, the Maringer would like to change universities. “I’m having really good experiences right now. But football-wise and academically, there may be even bigger challenges ahead. I’ll wait and see how next season goes and then make my decision.”
Since she does not have a full scholarship, the family is currently looking for sponsors to enable her to do a master’s degree in the USA, among other things. First of all, however, the student will return from the Moselle to Iowa, where the next tasks are already waiting for the spring season in February.