October 7, 2020
Thrills, passion, cheers: soccer moves people's minds. That is not different at Jacobs University. Since September, the women's soccer team has another reason to cheer. The team now plays in the district league as an official member of the local club SV Grohn. Therewith, the players are following a successful model at Jacobs University, as the men's soccer team, the basketball team and the rowing club are also organized in Bremen sports associations. Moreover, the women's soccer team is supported by a new coach: the former professional soccer player Kirsten Mueller.
It was not a difficult decision for her. From 2016 to 2018, Kirsten herself was a student at the international university in Bremen. Born in the United States, she completed her masters in Supply Chain Management and Engineering at Jacobs University and is very familiar with the campus. "I really enjoyed my studies. I specialized in sustainable production processes, upcycling and recycling. That was just the right thing for me, because I have always been interested in environmental protection," remembered the 26-year-old.
In addition to the exciting study program at Jacobs University, soccer was also a reason for Kirsten to move to Bremen. A talent scout discovered the American-born woman when she completed her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration at Saint Peter's University in Jersey City, which is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) division 1 university. The NCAA is a kind of premier league in the American college sports. "The US-American women's soccer is the most successful in the world. That is why the talent scout specifically looked for young American female athletes for German soccer," explained Kirsten. When she received an offer to play in a German team and study at a renowned international university, she didn't think twice. "It was a great opportunity to combine my academic career with my sporting ambitions," said the talented midfield player.
Kirsten enjoys looking back on her time in the second Bundesliga, where she played for the club TV Jahn Delmenhorst. Not only did she develop her technical skills, her team also made a lasting impression on her. "We got along well. I particularly enjoyed the away matches, because they gave me the opportunity to discover the whole country. And I finally learned German," she said with a smile. That had been a goal of hers for a long time. Although she was born and raised in New York, Kirsten has a German passport. Her grandparents are from Bavaria, and through her father she received the German citizenship.
A year ago, Kirsten ended her professional soccer career. "I started playing soccer when I was four years old. When I was 15, I joined the Elite Clubs National League, the highest league in American youth soccer," the New Yorker recalled. "Now I wanted to focus on something else.” Her plan was to work in supply chain management. But then the corona pandemic broke out and her career start proved to be difficult. Nevertheless, Kirsten is optimistic about the future: "I am now applying for internships first so that I can broaden my experience in this area. After that, I will definitely find a suitable job," she said convinced. Kirsten would like to stay in Bremen in the future. She feels comfortable in the Hanseatic city where she has made many friends in the past years.
But the Bremen-by-choice can't live without soccer completely. She had missed the sport last year. That's why she was overjoyed when she received an offer to coach the women's team at Jacobs University.
The coach has already warmed up with her new team, which is as international as Jacobs University. Latin America, North Africa, Germany – the players come from all around the world. "I enjoy training with the girls. They are fun and full of energy.” Twice a week, the 15 ambitious players meet for training on the campus' own soccer field in northern Bremen.
Kirsten has already set herself a personal goal: "I want the group to have fun playing and everyone to feel comfortable during training," she said, adding with a wink: "And if there's ever another player needed on the field, I'm happy to help out!”
This text is part of the series "Faces of Jacobs", in which Jacobs University introduces students, alumni, professors and staff. Further episodes can be found at www.jacobs-university.de/faces.