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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Drew Farnsworth’s journey from New Zealand to Western

Drew Farnsworth pictured dribbling the soccer ball around defenders. As a midfielder, Farnsworth’s job was to maneuver through the opposing defense.
Drew Farnsworth pictured dribbling the soccer ball around defenders. As a midfielder, Farnsworth’s job was to maneuver through the opposing defense.

Background of the senior men’s soccer player transition to the states.

By Aidan Gaffney

In 2017, Western welcomed eight freshmen to their men’s soccer team. One of these incoming recruits was midfielder Drew Farnsworth. Farnsworth made his journey to Bellingham all the way from New Plymouth, located on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. 

“I have been playing since I was about 4 and wanted to try and get better, so in my last year of high school, I moved to the big city, Auckland,” Farnsworth said. “That was a big move for me, having to move away from friends and family. The level of play was a lot better there, and I just wanted a different experience.”

Farnsworth said he hoped the difficult transition to Auckland in high school would help him achieve his dreams of playing in the United States. 

In order to accomplish this goal, Farnsworth acquired help from Wagner and Woolf, a recruiting service specializing in bringing athletes from around the world to play collegiately in the U.S. 

“I put together a sports resume with all my achievements and highlight videos, then Wagner and Woolf sent it out to different schools, resulting in different offers,” Farnsworth said.

One of those offers was from Western.

Assistant men’s soccer coach Kyle Segebart also played a role in bringing Farnsworth to Western. Segebart spent almost two years in New Zealand working for a youth academy and coaching for a men’s team, allowing him to gain contacts regarding soccer players in the area.

“So when it came to Drew, there was a guy named James Prosser who worked for the academy and hosted a camp in Wellington, recommending Drew after I reached out to him asking about players in a certain position,” Segebart said. “One of the things that I really wanted to add to the team was a bit of drive, a bit of bite and someone that would always 100% give you what you need and what you wanted as a coach, no questions asked.”

Through the recruiting service and recommendation from his former colleague, Segebart found a Kiwi — an internationally used nickname for people from New Zealand— that checked his boxes. However, the process of bringing in a player from another country took a team effort.

“We are not the only ones that get players like Drew here,” Segebart said. “There’s people at the university that help, whether it be the admissions department or the international student services, who help sort out student visas and other stuff like that.”

At arrival, Farnsworth said he didn’t know what to expect at Western. 

“Western seemed like a really nice place. I never visited the campus, it was all just through video, and people saying that it’s a good place,” Farnsworth said.

Soon enough, he settled into his new home.

“When I got here, I would stay with my new teammates who would show me around Bellingham,” Farnsworth said. “I thought it was pretty cool. It was not what I expected. I thought it was gonna be nowhere near as scenic as New Zealand. But the more I explored, I found out that Bellingham is a beautiful place.”

Farnsworth’s first roommate was freshman Georg Cholewa, a fellow international recruit who came from Germany. 

“We got to experience the American culture together, and as a native English speaker, Drew was always quick to help me out with any communicative difficulties,” Cholewa said. “Drew is the nicest Kiwi I ever met. He is a great teammate and an even better soccer player.”

In his time at Western, Farnsworth’s accolades include being named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Honorable Mention in 2018 and 2019 and being invited as a member of Western men’s soccer Leadership Council — the council discusses leadership topics which can be applied to the team — the past three seasons. Coach Segebart shared that he will also be awarded the captain’s armband for the upcoming season after his continual leadership throughout his Viking career. 

Farnsworth, now entering his senior season, is set to finish school with a major in psychology and minor in user experience design. With his senior season up in the air due to COVID-19, Farnsworth is hoping for men’s soccer to return in the spring. Farnsworth is eager for the men’s soccer team to make another run as GNAC champions. 

“We’re working hard. We will come back strong,” Farnsworth said. “And hopefully, we can keep the back-to-back title. Don’t forget about us.”

If the season is unable to start in the spring, Farnsworth plans on using his extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA to all fall sports athletes. 

After graduating from Western, Farnsworth acknowledged he has aspirations for his future. 

“It would be nice to play professionally somewhere. That’s always been the dream,” Farnsworth said. “But if not, see where the degree takes me. That is the nice thing about playing college sports, you can play at a high level and still get a degree at the same time. So I guess we’ll see what happens?”

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