"Don’t ever let anyone take away your fun." - Maivon Interview with Steven Lenhart

Steven Lenhart

As part of a Series of interviews with athletes who made the leap from university to professional sport, we spoke to Steven Lenhart, a former college soccer player, who financed his studies with a sports scholarship and is now a professional soccer player in the MLS.

"My college experience was instrumental for me in becoming a pro."

Steven, in 2008 you graduated from college and were drafted to the MLS. How is it to play on such a high level, and how well did college prepare you for a professional career in soccer?

Playing in the MLS has been an awesome time. I have enjoyed improving as a player, learning from experienced guys like Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and traveling the world. My college experience was instrumental for me in becoming a pro. I developed under head coach Phil Wolf and really learned how to be a better player and teammate. College was the best time of my life.

While in college what were some of the biggest challenges for you?

I think college was a good time for me to find out who i really was and to have fun. It took me a little while to figure out a good balance of how to spend my time. I eventually learned and then dominated.

Was it easy for you to balance your class schedule with practice and competition?

At first, I had to feel it out, balancing my class schedule, practice and seeing my friends, but it did not take long. I encourage you to be diligent in your schoolwork and you will have more than enough time to get better at your sport.

You were working and living with European soccer players while you were in college. Can you share a little bit about your experience?

My times with my European roommates were some of the best. I learned so much about their culture and how they operate. I also got a chance to teach them about our American way of life, especially how to relax a little bit and not to be so up tight. I had to remind them frequently that there is more to life than just soccer. I was the best man at my German roommates wedding. He will be a friend for life.

Many European players are concerned that their soccer career is over once they go to college. Do you share that opinion?

I never wanted to play professional soccer so it came as a surprise when I got the phone call that I was drafted. This just means that college really prepared me well to play on such a high level, because I never even thought I had a chance to play in the MLS.

What are your future goals for your soccer career?

My future goals are kind of up in the air right now. At some point, I would love to play internationally somewhere and get that experience, I know it is possible. It would be fun to get a shot to play for the U.S. national team one day.

Do you have any advice for young motivated European soccer players who are thinking about studying in the U.S.?

If you think playing and going to school in the U.S. will kill your career, you are wrong. First things first, college will absolutely change your life. You will improve as a person, and if the program is good, as a player. Make sure you do your research on what school has a solid team and coach, and you will enjoy your time in the U.S. Don’t ever let anyone take away your fun.