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Dec. 17, 2015
Three years ago, Simon Mathiesen was a student at Copenhagen Business School in Vedbaek, Denmark, searching for an opportunity to play college football. He found Northwest Missouri State University and immediately felt the family atmosphere people often associate with the University.
“I immediately fell in love with the whole environment, even though it was quite different from what I was used to back home in Denmark, coming from a big city in Copenhagen,” he said. “As soon as I stepped on campus, I felt like I was welcome. I felt like people wanted to interact with me and make me feel like this could be my home for a good couple of years. That had great importance to me, being so far away from home.”
Mathiesen says his dreams came true at Northwest. Most importantly, he earned his bachelor’s degree in business economics. He also played a key role on the Bearcat football team, which is trying for a second NCAA Division II national championship during Mathiesen’s tenure as its starting kicker.
“I came in my first year and got put in a situation where I had to help the team a lot – actually more than I expected I would – but I took advantage of that, and it has helped shape my stay here and I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said.
In 2013, he went a perfect 10-for-10 on his field goal attempts, including a 42-yard kick against St. Cloud State in the NCAA Division II quarterfinal game, and he hit all 35 of his extra point attempts on the way to Northwest’s fourth football national championship.
Watching fans take down goalposts at Bearcat Stadium after Northwest’s semifinal win in the Division II playoffs ranks as one of his favorite memories at the University.
“I saw how the whole student section went crazy and tore down the goal posts and everybody was rushing onto the field,” Mathiesen said. “That was something that was very special and touched me a little bit because I could see the great importance of what that meant to the school that we were going to go to the national championship.
“I came here and I had no idea about the traditions of the school or the football team or anything like that. All of sudden I’m like, ‘Oh, this is a really big deal, and it has a great impact on a lot of people.’ That hit home with me when I saw how happy it made people and how many people were affected by our performance on the field.”
Mathiesen’s performance was strong in the classroom, too. He adjusted to a different style of teaching than he was used to in Denmark and earned a 3.65 grade-point average. He also was named an MIAA Scholar Athlete, which recognizes student-athletes who maintain at least a 3.5 GPA and receive All-MIAA honors.
Mathiesen is proud of the education he received at Northwest. He says the social atmosphere – including the high level of faculty assistance – and the cultural differences also have left a positive, lasting impact on him.
“It was a little different coming over here and having to take history and science and biology and all of that stuff again, but I embraced it,” Mathiesen said. “It’s always good to expand your general knowledge, so that’s something I’m going to take with me.”
He added, “People don’t live on campus and you don’t have the same atmosphere and social interaction on campus as you do back in Denmark. That was something I thought was very cool when I first came here because it was very different. There’s more life around the school (at Northwest) than just the educational aspect of it.”
Mathiesen says his Northwest experiences have helped him learn to adapt to and overcome life’s challenges. Living far away from his family and friends in Denmark was not easy for him but he embraced his new environment and stayed true to his values.
“That’s something our coaching staff on the football team does a really good job of preparing us for things when things don’t go your way,” Mathiesen said. “You’re going to face many challenges in your life and having the ability to face those with a good spirit, I think that’s going to make you a much greater person and that’s going to help you a long way in your life.”
Mathiesen’s future plans include exploring professional football opportunities and returning to Denmark and pursue a master’s degree.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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