At a smaller Division I school like Marist College, it’s not difficult to put a name to the face of the many athletes competing for the school. After walking around campus for four years with their bright red backpacks and constant Marist Athletics apparel, these athletes have established themselves as just that — athletes. As they round the corner to graduation, the question remains: who are they outside of their sport?
The following story is a part of Center Field’s 19 for ‘19: Stories of the Senior Class series.
There are 3,790 miles between Copenhagen, Denmark and Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Thousands of miles away from his home, Simon Lund Jorgensen has made the Marist Men’s Soccer team his family. Named captain as just a freshman, Simon has been at the helm of the program for three and a half years – an honor for most players to serve just one.
“I came in as a freshman into the country and had to get adjusted and spend my first season with that stuff,” Simon said. “Then I learned more and more about my teammates and how to lead an American division one soccer team. I think I’ve definitely gotten better and better at it too.”
However, he wasn’t as young as you might think. Due to Simon’s school system in Denmark, the midfielder was 20-years-old when he arrived as a freshman. Being two years ahead of the vast majority of his class, he believes there was always more expected of him by the coaching staff.
The way that he plays the game of soccer also contributes to the leadership qualities that made his early captaincy a possibility. “I’m a center midfielder so I think my style of play is very vertical and also dictating the game a lot with the ball, so I think those are all part of it,” he said.
Lund Jorgensen attended Falkonergardens Gymnasium, the same high school as Marist Men’s Basketball star David Knudsen, who believes that the foreign background each of them possess has helped develop Simon into the leader the Marist coaching staff found in him. “Denmark is a good country for soccer, and he’s been at a high level there. So I think his guys on the soccer team respect him for that because he has already played with a lot of guys who are professionals now,” Knudsen said.
Simon knows he can attribute some of his greatest skills to his upbringing in the Danish soccer system, but he could never have prepared for the change of pace he encountered after arriving in the Hudson River Valley. “In terms of the style of play, it’s a lot more technical and tactical, especially in Europe, whereas the big step for me coming here was physically. It’s very fast paced and not always as pretty as some people would say it is in Europe,” he said. “I definitely had to get adjusted to that when I came here.”
And adjust he did. After earning All-MAAC Second Team and Rookie Team honors his freshman year, he truly came into his own by making the All-MAAC First Team the following season. His years as a Red Fox culminated in leading the team to the conference semifinals this past season. Though they ultimately fell to Quinnipiac on penalties, this was a team that won a quarterfinal matchup for the first time since 2011.
Led by Simon Lund Jorgensen, the Red Foxes nearly reached the promised land that has evaded them since before Head Coach Matt Viggiano’s 13-year tenure began.
But what could the next step be for a Danish midfielder who has shown he can compete at different levels of the game on a global level?
He believes in his ability to play at an even higher level and Knudsen expressed his faith that his friend could cut it as a professional. But Simon always knew his path was clear, and those close to him knew it, too. “He took this step to come here and get an education to pursue the dream of having a college education where you can play soccer and also get a good business career,” Knudsen said.
That business career remains his ultimate focus. “I’m applying for graduate school back home. If I get into that I don’t know how big a part soccer is going to be in my life in the future,” Simon said, without forgetting to explain that he will, “Definitely continue playing on a lower level, like, just for fun.”
Heading back to Denmark with an eclectic collection of skills, talents, and experiences is likely exactly what he set out to do when Marist College came calling over four years ago.
“There are some things that I learned here through soccer that I can use in the future in my work life and personal life as well. It was always such a great experience to come here from another continent and feel so welcomed, like having another family,” he said, going on to praise coach Viggiano on his immediate development of that family environment that allowed Simon to thrive in Poughkeepsie.
“I’ve definitely been proud to be a part of the program growing, for sure, throughout the time I’ve been there,” he said, citing the professionalism of the staff and coaches, and the talent of the incoming classes. Marist’s number “8” for the past four years can move on now, satisfied in the fact that he has seen the program, as well as his own abilities, grow throughout his tenure.
Edited by the Center Field Editorial Team.
Header image by Kristin Flanigan.