september 21, 2018 Mark Schuurman

Ties van Haastrecht – Wilbraham & Monson, Massachusetts

Determined – that is one word that describes Ties van Haastrecht; even a torn ACL and meniscus did not make him question the feasibility of his athletic goals. The Dutch soccer player did the math and figured that he would finish his sixteen-month medical rehabilitation just in time for the next season. So he made plans to play soccer and study at Wilbraham & Monson Academy for the following year.

When I arrived a year ago, I really loved it. But I had to get used to it though; suddenly you are all alone. International freshmen are asked to come a week earlier, for an introduction week. But now, I am really enjoying myself, you get the feeling that people care about you. When things aren’t going well,  everyone asks how you are doing;  it is like one big family.

You do have to do your own laundry here, that definitely was something I had to get used to. When it comes to doing laundry, I do miss home. But if I would have gone away to school in the Netherlands, I would have done my own laundry as well.

Soccer is going well. It is really professional here; we have a coach, an assistant coach, ball boys and water boys. We practice every day and we have two games per week and my team is very good. The game of soccer is a little different, though. When it comes to skills, I am probably one of the better players in the team. The focus here lies more on physical strength, everyone on the team is really strong and in good shape. I have had some minor injuries since I got here – all because the game is so physical.

I tore my ACL and my meniscus last year and it took a good 16 months to fully recover from it. After my operation I thought I should be recovered by the time the next season starts. So, I made an appointment at GUTS; Mark and Marina brought me into contact with numerous schools. From all the schools on the list, I chose to attend Wilbraham & Monson Academy because I spoke to them at the GO USA Education Fair in 2016 and left with a great feeling.

I was never afraid that I would not be able to get back into the shape I was before the injury. I trusted my physical therapist – he is specialized in knee injuries. I had physical therapy three days a week; the rest of the time I sat on the sideline to watch my team play. Mentally, it was a real challenge; I kept on thinking, if I was playing now, I would have done this, or that; but it does make you eager to play again!

A prep school is a mix between high school and college. You really cannot compare it to a Dutch school. You wear a uniform – a jacket and tie. Between 20.00 and 22.00 you have the chance to do homework in your own room. All the teachers live on campus and you can always ask them a question; the other night I sent my teacher an email and he answered within 15 minutes! Why did I choose to go to a prep school? I am 17 years old and thought the step to college-level soccer was too big for me at this moment. I can’t show them my best yet; my goal is to transfer to a college or university, eventually.