As most soccer fans would agree, adding a little European flair to an already outstanding soccer squad could never be a bad thing, and the Crimson Bears girls' team can attest to that.
On "loan" from Denmark and Germany, respectively, juniors Kaya Christensen and Barbara Lux have found their ways into integral roles in the state-bound Juneau-Douglas roster. But before they depart Juneau in late June to return to their home countries, they both hope to hoist a state championship trophy at Adair-Kennedy Field.
"It would be really cool. I would be pumped and proud of the team," Lux said. "I would just like to go home to my team and say, 'Yeah, we won state in Alaska.'"
But both know there is work left to be done. As Christensen put it, the Bears (14-4-1) have to take things one game at a time.
"Of course it would be great, but we have three games to think of before we get there," she said. "We have Wasilla first and we have to be ready."
Though they are both new to soccer here in the United States, they've both been playing futbol in Europe for years. Still, each player is excited about being a part of an event like this, the state championship soccer tournament, here in Juneau this week.
"I'm pretty excited because it's the first time the state tournament's been in Juneau in a long time," Christensen said. "Everybody is really excited, so it really makes it cool to be here."
She also said she enjoys being in this situation, especially when it was so difficult to earn a spot on the Bears' deep roster.
"I didn't know anything about high school sports when I got here, and it was hard to make the team," Christensen said. "But everybody is really welcoming and very nice. The connection we have together helps new people on the team, and I really enjoy playing here."
Lux and Christensen both talked about how different it is playing sports for a school, because their hometown soccer teams are not affiliated with the schools they attend. For both girls, the most fun part of their experiences has been the camaraderie between teammates and classmates.
"I think it's so cool that everyone dresses up at school before games," Christensen said. "At home, it's only the soccer part, and no school. That's what makes this so much greater. There's a connection with people outside of soccer."
"In Germany, all the people on my team didn't even live in my town," Lux added. "When you see your teammates in school, it's fun. You know everybody. The team is so big, you see green shirts everywhere."
Neither girl was ready for the high school sports scene in the United States, especially Juneau's. Both girls said there isn't this kind of attention and support back home.
"I didn't expect high school sports to be so huge," Christensen said. "I think it's great that the newspapers are here - it's just bigger (in Juneau)."
For Lux, just being on a successful team like the Crimson Bears is a great experience.
"My teams have always been pretty bad, and here, you have to give everything you have to be on varsity," Lux said. "That's why our JV is so good. Everyone wants to be on varsity.
"I'm really glad to be playing soccer here."
Lux's parents were actually able to attend a game this season at Adair-Kennedy Field on Cinco de Mayo, and they were treated to a game in which their daughter put up a hat trick against Thunder Mountain. But, as is the case with most teenagers, there were other issues on Lux's mind.
"It was fun, but I was really glad my mother didn't embarrass me," she laughed. "She usually yells really loud and high."
All joking aside, Lux said she likes the team's chances in the upcoming tournament.
"I think (our chances) are pretty good," she said, pausing cautiously. "I hope they're good."
But Lux knows her team is playing well. After scrimmaging the Juneau-Douglas boys' team Monday, the team said it was feeling good after facing some tough competition. However, Lux hopes to finish the season strong after what she considered to not be her best season. For her, there was an adjustment moving overseas.
"For me, I think the season was not so great because I was sick. But I think I'm back," she said. "We have a different system here - a different formation than what I'm used to - so it was kind of hard in the beginning."
But that was the beginning. Now, both girls are comfortable and are important to the team's success going into the weekend ahead, and leaving Juneau will not be easy for them.
"It's going to be hard, but we've made some amazing friends and been with amazing families," Christensen said.
"With today's technology, it's going to be easy," Lux added. "I hope."
While their time in Juneau is inching closer to its end, there is still work to be done, and both girls plan on enjoying the time they have left.
But before they return to their home countries, they hope to be a part of soccer history starting Thursday in Juneau.
More on the Juneau-Douglas boys' soccer team in Wednesday's paper.
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