There is a select crew of Castleton University athletes who can say they have grown up playing their respective sport
in another country. Men’s soccer players William von Heland of Stockholm, Sweden and Glenn Devine of Niagara Falls, Canada are included in that minority. In the short time that they have lived in America, they have become integral parts of this year’s squad.
Senior defender Eric Cross said they’ve been welcomed additions.
“They bring with them a new culture and attitude we all embrace and enjoy,” he said.
Teammate PJ Phillips said the team has a more uplifting spirit this season thanks in part to von Heland and Devine.
“The past couple of years, the team was quick to get down on each other and themselves. I think with the addition of the international students, they have helped us past that problem. Their attitude has helped adjust the way we react to certain situations,” Phillips said
Although this is the first year he has had international players on his Castleton team, coach John O’Connor has had plenty of experience working with them on previous teams.
“I feel like they bring a different kind of cultural thing to it because soccer is part of the culture with these guys,” O’Connor said. “I think they embrace it more and I think our guys embrace that too. They value playing a little bit more because of these guys.”
He also talked about their different style of play. For instance, von Heland, perhaps mimicking the European style, has quick feet and exceptional technical skill.
“I think William is closer to kind of a Dutch style, more of a passing game. And when you see him, technically he’s very good. The way he plays is actually closer to the way we’re trying to play,” O’Connor.
Devine, from the Canadian province of Ontario, is used to more physical play.
“Glenn has got a little bit more of a power game, and I think that comes from being in Toronto, around that area. Although the players are technical, there’s also a kind of power part of it and I think that’s where his strength lies,” the coach said.
But neither player said they see a big difference playing in a different country.
“It’s kinda similar. A little bit more long balls here. We have more team play in Sweden, short play. And maybe we switch sides more. But it depends,” von Heland said.
As for Devine, he noticed less of a difference technically, but commented on how college soccer “is a lot more physical.” Both agreed, when asked, that it wasn’t hard to adjust to American soccer.
“Not really, because I played club in Buffalo for four years,” Devine said. Von Heland agreed saying “American soccer, as I said, is kinda similar, but of course there was some tactical things that I had to adjust and get used to. But I think it came quite easily, Coach was good about teaching those things to me and told me things I could do better in certain situations.”
And both said their teammates made the transition pretty easy with von Heland saying the team dynamic is “really good.”
“We are spending a lot of time together; we’re practicing every day. On the weekends we all hang out as a team. I like it, it’s really cool. It’s always nice to have a team to rely on. As an international student, it’s always nice to have a safe card,” he said.
When asked about his expectations for the team coming into the season, Devine said “they’ve been surpassed.”
The next opportunity to see the team play is Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against Husson University.