Dutch defender Ryan Ten Hulscher chasing his football dreams a world away

Even though he’s 5,229 miles from home, Dutch linebacker Ryan Ten Hulscher continues to focus on one thing – his football dream.

The foreign exchange student has relentlessly pursued the sport taking an opportunity to play a world away at the College of the Siskiyou in Weed, California.

Before the countless weightlifting sessions, practices, and film meetings of college football Ten Hulscher discovered football in his home country and never looked back. While his friends and classmates in his hometown of The Hague, Netherlands opted for soccer, the physicality of football was something the big-bodied Ten Hulscher couldn’t resist:

“I fell in love with it, I realized it did not matter how big or strong you are. If you have the heart and passion for it, you can play and succeed.”  (via Siskiyou Daily News)

The tall teenager discovered American football playing for the Hague Raiders. It was there that the young man’s passion for the game began to grow quickly. After high school, Ten Hulscher worked as a manager in a bar and as an office worker by day, while holding onto his dream of playing football in the United States at night.

Now at the age of 22, the 6’4″, 245-pound freshman linebacker has finally achieved that dream recently finishing his first season of college football at the College of the Siskiyou (Junior College). In eight games with the Eagles, the Dutchman led the team’s defense with 51 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, five and a half sacks, one forced fumble, and an interception.

Eagles head coach Chris Knudsen on the international defender’s unique success:

“He is a great player and a really hard worker,” said Knudsen “They realize when you get in the huddle, you’re all the same. You all work together for a common goal and get to know one another. That’s one reason why I love football.”   (via Siskiyou Daily News)

Photo: Liz Pyles

The success on the field has come in part to the European feeling at home off of it. With the help of teammates and coaches, Ten Hulscher has been put in a position to succeed. A position the mature freshman is thankful for:

“They are 100 percent behind me,” he said. “They told me to do my best. I don’t want to let them down.”  (via Siskiyou Daily News)

After one impressive year at the junior college level, the massive Dutch defender should be able to draw the attention of NCAA coaches. The question is will he be back in rural California for a second season, or pursue budding opportunities at other junior colleges or four-year universities?

Ten Hulscher spoke on his immediate football future back in October:

“It’s a big commitment to come here,” Ten Hulscher said. “It’s a lot of money, so I want to make sure I give 100 percent and work hard every day. I am fully committed.” (via Siskiyou Daily News)

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football