Over the years many international athletes have crossed the Atlantic Ocean to play collegiate sports in the United States.
Huskers soccer player Eleanor Dale did just that. She came from Billingham, England to pursue her dream of playing collegiate soccer.
Dale’s soccer journey began when she was quite young. “I started playing when I was five. I used to watch my dad play, and then I just started to get into playing myself.” She played soccer with her Granddad and would always get feedback from him.
Dale decided she wanted to expand her soccer career by coming to the U.S. after an enjoyable youth career.
“I have always wanted to come to the United States to play soccer because I think the dual-career that you can get here is great,” she said. “I can focus on school and my soccer at the same time. At home you have to give one of them up. I also wanted to become more of an athlete, and I think that coming to the States has definitely helped me to do that.”
Nebraska first contacted Dale through an agency in her home country. Nebraska head women’s soccer coach John Walker saw footage of her game and came to watch her play in England.
“Ever since I got in touch with him (Walker), I knew that Nebraska was the place I wanted to go,” Dale said.
When Dale came on her visit to Nebraska, she said the facilities were phenomenal. She also thought the Husker culture was amazing.
“How they concentrate on player development is great; they have got a good program here,” she said.
Leaving home and coming all the way across the ocean to pursue a lifelong dream was a very hard decision for Dale to make. She said the most challenging part was transitioning to the different style of soccer here.
“Back at home, it’s very possession-based and a lot more technical, and here it is more physical and athletic.”
Dale said leaving her family was tough due to the six-hour time difference between Nebraska and England, but she said she has adjusted to life in Lincoln very well.
“I think that the culture that Nebraska has here is amazing,” Dale said. “The fanbase is really cool. You go to a Nebraska football game and the atmosphere is just crazy.”
Dale has some big goals in her career. After playing at Nebraska, she dreams of becoming a professional player.
“After my four years at UNL, I would like to go pro back at home in the WSL, which is the top league there.”
Dale has international experience at the youth level.
“I played on the U-17, U-18, and U-19 national teams in which I got to play in some tournaments and international fixtures, so that was a really great experience.”
Dale says she has a huge dream of someday playing for England’s Senior National Team.
One of Dale’s closest friends on the team is Kenzie Coons. They met two years ago when Dale first came to Nebraska.
“I thought she was really funny, and I had never met anyone from England,” Coons said. “So, I was honestly just really fascinated by her.”
The pair clicked instantly.
“She was also super sweet and we got along right away.”
Coons was very ecstatic about getting to play with a high-caliber European player.
“I was super excited,” she said. “Because I thought it was really different, like, I’m from Nebraska and I play college soccer in Nebraska and I knew she was a really good player because she plays for the England Youth National Team.”
Coons had some high praise for Dale’s dedication to the sport. “She is super dedicated to soccer and has a very hard work ethic.”
Coons loves being on the field with someone who has the same passion for the sport as she has.
“We both have future goals in soccer, so it is nice to have someone to motivate you,” Coons said.
“We have kind of a tough-love relationship, are very sarcastic with each other, and have a lot of inside jokes. Our personalities just work really well together,” Coons said. She said they always sit by each other on the plane and have lots of conversations that have brought them closer.
After knowing each other for two years, they have funny moments to share.
“I don’t know why, but I was just super interested in the royal family and so I asked her one day if she had met the Queen and she told me yes.” Coons told everyone that Dale had. Two months later Dale revealed that she actually had not met the queen.
“It was this whole joke that I believed it.”
Coons is very proud of Dale for leaving England and coming to the U.S to pursue her lifelong dream.
“I think that would be really hard to leave my family and traveling to a whole different country to play,” Coons said. “When you don’t really know anything about the place or the people, and you’re just in a totally different environment.”