New Zealander enjoys spot on men’s soccer team

Alex Traczyk and Alex Traczyk

Dan Looker is roughly 5,500 miles away from his family, pursuing his love for soccer.

His love for the sport started when he was only 5 years old and playing center back. Ever since then, soccer had always been the number one thing on his mind.

“I love everything about soccer. I love watching it on TV, I love the competitive aspect of it,” said Looker, freshman and soccer player at the University. “As I got older, I realized that I could play and make money from it and the opportunity to play soccer has led me to America.”

Originally from Papamoa, Tauranga, a little beach-town in New Zealand, Looker was recruited by head coach Eric Nichols to play soccer at BG.

Coach Nichols said he looked at about 50 players and Looker was the one that stood out the most.

“Looker had the academic package, we needed another center back, and I knew his style of playing would mesh well with our team,” Nichols said.

Looker played soccer all throughout high school and chased his dreams to an academy right out of high school. He attended an academy called “Ole Football Academy” that was run by Americans where the goal was to get an athlete to a school in the level where they belonged, whether it was division 3 or division 1.

Nichols said that one word he would use to describe Looker would be driven because of how dedicated he is to soccer.

Looker said he is very serious about the game and will do anything necessary to make himself a better player and Nichols said that is something all coaches look for.

“We pride ourselves on having different people on our team, and having everyone appreciate each other’s differences and Dan fits right in,” Nichols said.

Fellow center back for the team Jake Genrich said that Looker is the best teammate someone can have.

“Dan knows how to have fun, but he is very serious and pushes everyone around him,” Genrich said.

Genrich also said that Looker will impress all of the ladies with his accent and one of the best things he does is impersonate an American accent.

Looker is a perfect fit for the team and is a player that every teammate can appreciate, he said.

“He is not afraid to go into a challenge and knock you down, but right after he will pick you up and apologize,” Genrich said.

Looker said his teammates are just like his family and they try to help him with anything he needs.

While his team makes him feel at home in BG, Looker said it isn’t the same.

“It’s difficult being away from my family,” Looker said. “I’ve been moved out of home for about two years now, so I am kind of used to not seeing them, but it’s different knowing that I can’t go back on the weekends every month.”

He has three siblings: Lewis, Lila and Dylan. His parents are divorced but he is very close to his mother Josie. It’s hard for him to talk with his family often because of the 16 hour time difference, but he Skypes them when he can.

It takes around $3,000 to travel back to New Zealand and 40 hours total.

“I need at least five days to adjust after the traveling because it took me two weeks to adjust last time I traveled here,” Looker said. “Traveling here was probably one of the worst experiences I ever had, but I would go back every time just to see my family.”

Looker spent breaks from BG with his teammates in Chicago and some of his family that lives in Pennsylvania.

Whenever he returned from breaks, he said he is ready to jump right back into soccer.

“Soccer takes up 85 percent of my life because even if I’m not playing, I am always thinking about how I could improve, and watching what I did wrong in training,” Looker said.

Even though Looker didn’t play as much as he wanted to this year, he said that he respects his coach’s decisions and knows his coach has his best interest in mind.

Looker’s coach, teammates and family all know how important soccer is to him and how he will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.

“One word I would use to describe myself is dedicated, just because it takes a lot for you to leave your family and know that you’re not going to see them for nine months at a time,” Looker said. “But they know what I want, and they know that it requires me to sacrifice a lot of things and seeing them is one of them.”