Marie Bathe has been living and playing women’s college soccer at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee USA since mid-2019. In an interview with Athletes USA player scout Marcel Mutz, the 20-year-old soccer player from Freiburg, south Germany tells how to achieve such a big step of development already at this young age.
New Chapter – New Home
Even at the age of five, she always had to have a ball next to her. Marie grew up in Kirchzarten near Freiburg, South Germany, played for SC Freiburg and TSV Alemannia Freiburg-Zähringen in the German fifth division. Sport has always been a big part of her life. Today she’s living in Tennessee, 4,000 miles away from home, in the United States of America. With the help of a sports scholarship, she made the dream of studying and playing soccer at a high level come true. Turning her back on her hometown for at least four years was not easy. Still, it was one of the best decisions of her life to start her women’s college soccer journey!
Playing women’s soccer and studying sports science – Marie enjoys the American sports system.
With the help of her sports scholarship agency Athletes USA, Marie received several offers for a degree and a place in the squad of university teams at the end of 2018. The decision was quickly made, the new home Lebanon, half an hour from the metropolis of Nashville. At Cumberland University, the German soccer player studies sports science and enjoys the advantages of the American sports system.
In addition to women’s college soccer life and lectures, soccer is also high on the daily schedule. The teams are measured with other universities, the fan base and the pride around the team can be compared with nothing in German amateur women’s soccer. This is also reflected in the local conditions. In addition to fitness rooms, ice baths and an own physio team, there is also a training ground and the Lindsey Donnell Stadium. Marie enthuses that she “has never played on such a good turf in Germany”.
Women’s College Soccer Freshman of the Year
But Marie also knows how to convince. Twice voted into the top team of the week, represented in the team of the season, as well as a very special honor: Freshman of the Year. Season number one could hardly have gone better. These are the credits of passion and hard work, she says. There is no a day without training and personal development in her women’s college soccer scholarship.
Even if the corona pandemic changes everyone’s lives, the adventure is the best time of her live. She doesn’t feel insecure, quite the opposite. The handling of the virus was well planned, especially the lectures in the online format worked very well. The basis for the next semesters have been set.
Marie is far from having enough!
Plans for the period after the bachelor’s degree and her women’s college soccer career are made. She would like to stay at her university in America to complete a master’s degree. The sports system in America and the possibility to complete university degree besides sports on a professional basis are fantastic! Unfortunately, few people know this opportunity in Germany. With the help of her agency Athletes USA her move was well planned and the best decision of her life. Marie’s personal advice to all athletes with similar plans of a women’s college soccer scholarship: be brave and just start, it’s worth it.
Free Evaluation of Your Chances > athletesusa.org/apply
Anna-Marie Bathe’s profile > athletesusa.org/user/anna-marie-bathe/
Marcel Mutz Scout Page > athletesusa.org/marcel-mutz/
Exclusive Interview with Marie Bathe: A soccer adventure at Cumberland University
Mutz: Hey Marie, how are you?
Bathe: Hey Marcel, I’m just home Christmas visiting my family in Freiburg, so I’m doing very well! I have been living at an American university for almost two years, coming home is always a great pleasure for me!
Mutz: You are 20 years old, what leads you to America so early on?
Bathe: I’m studying sports science in the fourth semester and am expected to finish my bachelor’s degree in America in 2023. After my German high school degree in 2019 at the Walter-Eucken Gymnasium in Freiburg, the future was quite freely for me. I quickly realized the possibility to study abroad. I decided to study in America for various reasons, although there would have been some options in Freiburg. I’m at a smaller private university, we’re around 3,000 students, familiar for American standards.
Mutz: How can we imagine the university system in America?
Bathe: I study quite similarly to German universities, but in America I receive a more personal support for the professors, more regulated procedures and the focus is of course strongly on soccer. My degree is fully accredited in Germany, which means that I had no risk by taking this huge step. Sport plays a very important role, but my academic achievements must not suffer as a result. In America, sport in general is an important factor in universities, much of it revolves around your own team. The fellow students are real fans, there are mascots and cheerleaders. This makes everyday life at university more exciting and unites the whole university.
Mutz: Being an athlete at an American university brings a certain amount of fitness, can you describe a typical day as a sports student?
Bathe: Bathe: It all depends on the season. But yes, it’s a lot about fitness. We play a short but very intense season in the university system in the autumn. Generally, I have lectures from 8 a.m. to the afternoon, after this training starts. Usually two hours with high intensity. In the evening I have free time and can deal with the preparation and follow-up of the lectures. In the season, training is required every day. It’s hard, but you get better day by day, it’s really fun!
Games are then usually on Wednesday and Saturday. Of course, on game day there are now training sessions. Sometimes we stay at the hotel the night before, arrived by team bus, which is quite professional. In addition to the season, there will also be a lot of strength training in the spring with soccer training in order to create the basics. Also because the training is so intense, a lot of emphasis is placed on regeneration. Therefore, depending on the level of strain, the ice ton is waiting for me after the game. (Marie laughs!)
Mutz: It can be seen that a lot is about sport and performance. In your opinion, what’s more interesting about this than playing soccer and studying in Germany?
Bathe: Universities allow us athletes to combine study and sport at the highest level! I am supported every day to get the best out of myself. With the study, a plan B is created for us, if the sport isn’t practiced professional later on. For me, however, it is rather the opportunity to continue my passion soccer at this level despite my studies. My teammates at my home club in Germany always had problems to combine that. The German system is more focused on studies, what keeps it hard to play at a very high level besides.
The thought of having to put soccer on hold was a great pity for me. In addition, the scholarship offers me the opportunity to study almost for free and as a result, sport now has a very important place in my life. Unfortunately, this would not be so easy in Germany. So to speak, it was not a decision against Germany, but rather a decision for sport.
Mutz: Many people don’t know where to go after high school, how did you come up with the idea of a sports scholarship America?
Bathe: I had the idea of moving my planned studies to America during high school. I heard about this opportunity through my agency Athletes USA. I always thought that the requirements were far too high for me, especially in terms of sport. Luckily, I was taught something better. The more I thought about it, the more interesting the adventure became for me. On my own, however, I would have had too much respect for this step. I am very happy to have an experienced partner at my side for all questions. So I was able to plan my next steps at school and prepare everything for America.
Mutz: Do you think that the system of sports scholarships should get more attention in Germany?
Bathe: Yes, definitely! I think that far too few athletes in Germany know what a great opportunity a sports scholarship offers. Many people still think like me a few years ago. The level that an athlete has to bring is really not too high. Many people are therefore already writing off their chances without getting proper information about it, which is a pity. That’s why the work of Athletes USA is so important, without you I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today. I am very grateful for that!
Mutz: You’ve been in Tennessee for almost 2 years now, how do you like it?
Bathe: I’m really excited. As a foreign athlete, you receive a really warm welcome! Being in a team from the beginning helps me a lot, everyone was very friendly to me from day one. I immediately felt like I belong here. I enjoy every minute, whether on or off the pitch. And seeing how you always improve makes me proud. My initial concerns about the language and the new culture have been level.
I think that you have to take such an opportunity in order to be able to experience it once in a lifetime. This is also my personal advice to all those who are facing the decision sports scholarship in the USA. In any case, we should have the courage to experience a sports scholarship. Due to the intensive support of the team of Athletes USA, I never felt like I was on my own and no one can take away the experiences I can experience here.
Mutz: A major reason for studying in the USA was the excellent combination of sports and studies. How do you like the athletic level and structure of the university leagues in America?
Bathe: Although my university is not quite that big, the conditions are already very professional. For example, we have our large changing room, each in its own place with nameplate. The turf is really excellent both on the training ground and in the stadium, I have never played on such a good turf in Germany! (Laughs) Our games are mostly broadcast live. Pretty exciting if you are used to the quite small women’s soccer in Germany. This also gives my family in Freiburg the chance to follow me from afar. In addition to a fitness center, we also have other professional conditions such as our own physiotherapy team. That’s just brilliant! This is also reflected in the quality of the game. The level is very high, especially in terms of intensity and physics, American soccer is much more exhausting than I was used to from home.
Mutz: What is it like to be at home again? What’s the thing you miss the most? After all, you live more than 4000 miles away from home.
Bathe: Definitely good to be here again! Seeing my family and being back home is a great feeling. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to do much at the moment, but I’m still very happy! I would like to see all my friends again now, but through the lockdown we will postpone this until the next visit. But yes, of course, the homeland is missing, especially the German food! (Laughs) I also lack the nature in the Freiburg area. I always like to go mountain biking in the Black Forest. Due to the high sporting stress in America, other sports unfortunately fall out a bit, so I’m always very happy to be able to come home during the semester holidays.
Mutz: How does the COVID-19 situation affect your everyday life in America?
Bathe: I live on the campus of Cumberland University and in the university buildings. We always have to wear masks outside the private rooms, similar to Germany. We have also divided the lectures into classroom teaching and online lectures. As far as I can judge this, it worked out better than with my friends in Germany, since the universities in America are already at a high innovative level! I think that despite the situation I have not missed anything. But yes, of course the virus brings restrictions. But I also think that we have reacted very well to this. In this way, the sporty and academic everyday life can be continued as best as possible on campus.
Mutz: You live your dream in America. What are the plans and dreams for the future?
Bathe: The plan is to successfully complete my bachelor’s degree at my university. I would like to stay here in America longer, hopefully I get the chance to get a sport scholarship for a master’s degree at my university. In the long term, I want to work in sports therapy and take a job in a big professional club. Of course I would like to come back to Germany and my home town of Freiburg. However, if something interesting were to arise in the States, I would be also interested to stay here after graduation.
Mutz: Marie, thanks for your time! I think we were able to get an exciting insight into your life as an athlete with a sports scholarship. Thank you!
Bathe: You’re welcome! I now that I’m living a sportsman’s dream. Unfortunately, sports scholarships are not yet getting the attention they deserve. That is why it is important to me to show the world what is possible. I would advise everyone to deal with the issue first, rather than write it off immediately. Just overcome the fear and concerns and also start the adventure of your life.
Free Evaluation of Your Chances > athletesusa.org/apply
With the blogs on the topic of Sports Scholarships USA, the sports manager and scout Marcel Mutz from Freiburg, Germany helps you to focus on your next career steps. With the help of the experience as an active soccer player and coach, as well as the worldwide Athletes USA network, his information should help you with your future planning.