He shoots, he scores

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PATRICK MAYR
SPORTS EDITOR

Less than a month into his senior year, Nils Elwing (’13), unlike the rest of his peers who are battling the college process, can enjoy a more stress-free environment and focus on his one true passion: Soccer.
Although not yet officially accepted to George Washington University (GW) to play soccer, Elwing successfully underwent an early read. While his transcripts have been approved by the university, Elwing still has to go through the motion of officially sending in his application.

After much thought and discussion with his family, Elwing decided to commit to GW.

“In the end it was an easy decision,” said Elwing who cannot hide the joy of having his future almost set while his peers still have to combat the intensities of school.

Yet the path to recruitment by a Division I sports school has proven to be anything else but easy, with Elwing describing it as an “extremely competitive and humbling experience.”

The process officially began for Elwing during the summer of his junior year. He attended several recruitment camps across the country and his physical and intelligent play caught the eye of numerous coaches. GW did not express any interest originally, but after Elwing visited his older sister Caroline Elwing (’09) in Washington D.C. the same summer, he started getting into contact with the head coach via email.

“Initially there wasn’t much interest from their part as they had never seen me play,” Elwing explained, “so throughout my junior year I sent them, along with several other universities, match videos and highlights of my games.”

Junior year was spent balancing a rigorous schedule of ASL soccer and club-level soccer in addition to schoolwork. Interest in Elwing was rising and he caught the eye of several prestigious schools including the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn).

“The interest from UPenn gradually rose throughout the year and at one point they asked for my transcripts which indicated a serious interest.”

However, Elwing stressed the importance of remaining focused, as he knew that inquiries and various levels of interest were a long way off from a substantive offer. He also mentioned that he was not going to grow disillusioned at even the slightest hint of interest in contrast to ex-Arsenal soccer players Samir Nasri and Emmanuel Adebayor.

The toughest period for Elwing was last summer, which he recalls as one of the “most frantic periods of [his] life.” Constantly on the road participating in different camps and competing in tournaments, Elwing was determined to further convince coaches of his ability. Although UPenn’s pursuit of Elwing gradually dissipated, interest from GW along with Bates University and Boston University was bolstered, and he paid a visit to D.C. once more.

It was then that he had his first serious face-to-face talk with the head coach. A fellow Brit himself, the coach left an immediate impression on Elwing and set out his playing philosophy and ambitions for the coming years.

“Already from the outset the coach’s ideas resonated well with me,” Elwing explained. “He told me of his desire to play a grounded type of football and that he doesn’t care about a player’s age but his quality. They won the Atlantic-10 conference last year but narrowly missed out on the NCAA tournament in a penalty shootout. Also most of the players on the team are very young, so it’s a team going places.”

As a passionate Arsenal supporter, Elwing’s love for the beautiful game is not hard to trace, but he claimed that his decision was equally influenced by the fact that Washington D.C. is the only state in America with a Nando’s.

“When I visited GW I went out with a couple of the British players from the team and ate at Nando’s. All the people on the team seem really nice and although team chemistry and ambition are very important, nothing beats a good Nando’s meal,” Elwing said.

Either way, Elwing is over the moon about approaching the finish line of scoring a long sought-after goal of his and one day soon debuting for a college team.

Asked if he would maybe consider a professional career in the Major League Soccer (MLS) after college, Elwing responded, “If the opportunity would arise, I would jump on it, but I’m going in with realistic expectations. I just want to enjoy college and after we’ll see where life takes me.”

patrick_mayr@asl.org