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Danish Kicker Plays Role in Northwest's Run

Simon Mathiesen sought out opportunities in America after falling in love with football in Denmark.
(MARYVILLE, Mo.) Northwest will play its seventh national semifinal game in Maryville this weekend with a shot at their first championship berth since 2009. 

Several new players have had a role in the Bearcats' run, but one came all the way across the pond to do so. 

Kicker/wide receiver Simon Mathiesen grew up in Denmark, which, like most European countries, is known for its love of soccer over American Football. This isn't the case for kids like Mathiesen, who opted for the gridiron over the pitch.

"Soccer is way bigger there. I've played soccer for most of my life," he said. "I just fell in love with football when I was 15 years old. The level is just not as high as over here, of course. The audience and media attention is pretty low."

Born in New York City, Mathiesen and his family moved back to Denmark when he was four years old. There, his affection for football started to bud just over a decade later. Teenagers in Denmark play for clubs rather than high school teams, and Mathiesen played four years as a receiver and kicker before spending another season at the "senior" level. 

He then decided to pursue a spot with an American collegiate team. So, how does a Danish teenager make it to Maryville?

"It's tough to be recruited when you're from Denmark because no school would probably send scouts to Europe to get kids. What I did was put a tape together and send it out to 50 to 70 schools."

Those schools included Ivy League and Top 25 Division II programs, including Northwest. 

"Kendall Wright, one of our graduate assistants, got an email from him," special teams/defensive backs coach Ken Gordon said. "He and Joel Osborn started talking to him through email and before you know it, he came up here for a visit. Now he's here in Maryville kicking for the Bearcats."

"He's certainly very talented," head coach Adam Dorrel said. "He can kick with both feet and he can kick very well with both feet." 

Despite his desire to be a receiver, Mathiesen, the first Danish player in program history, was placed second on the kicking depth chart to start the season. 

"It was tough at first. I love playing receiver," he said. "But I'm completely focused on kicking right now because that's what I can do to help the team."

But when redshirt freshman Ben Trewyn threw his back out before the Bearcats faced Washburn, Mathiesen got the call. He's connected on all six field goal attempts and earned an MIAA Special Teams Player of the Week honor in the five games since.

"One thing I like about him: nothing bothers him at all," Gordon said. "Where he came from, he didn't known about the Northwest Bearcats and the history that we've got going. It's the same thing with the Missouri Western game. He doesn't know about all that."

"All he knows is to go out there and kick the football. I think that's a good thing for him to have because there's no pressure on him." 

"No pressure" is impressive for a young man spending his first full year in a new country away from family and with a chance to help his team play for a national championship.

But, when the Bearcats need points, there may be no one better to deliver, because wherever there is a field is where Mathiesen feels like home.

"All the teammates were really good company when I first got here," he said. "You really feel like the team is a family here and that's really important to me since I'm so far away from home." 

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