Meet Kelsey Hood, midfielder for Vålerenga

This American’s soccer career led her from Minnesota to Norway’s Toppserien league

Photo: Digitalsport  Kelsey Hood, midfielder.

Photo: Digitalsport
Kelsey Hood, midfielder.

Molly Jones
Norwegian American Weekly

Several years ago, soccer player Kelsey Hood moved from Minnesota to Norway to continue her soccer career. Now the 29-year-old central midfielder is starting a new season in Norway with Vålerenga, an Oslo-based club in the Norwegian premier women’s league, Toppserien. Here she shares with us a bit about her experiences as an American athlete in Norway.

Molly Jones: How did you end up competing in Norway?

Kelsey Hood: I played soccer at the University of Minnesota, and after I graduated, I didn’t feel ready to hang up my boots quite yet. A childhood friend of mine was playing in Kristiansand, Norway, in 2010, and she asked if I was interested in playing abroad because her team needed a central midfielder. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to travel the world and play soccer fulltime. I packed my life up and moved to Norway the next week.

MJ: You’ve made quite a name for yourself in Norway through your career with Donn, Amazon Grimstad, and now Vålerenga. What do you feel you contribute to Norwegian women’s soccer?

KH: I started my career with Donn straight out of college and was a little bit of a hot head! I think back then I struggled a little bit adjusting to the style and soccer culture, but now I am 29 and I feel I bring more experience and composure to the team.

MJ: Do you feel the game itself is played differently in Norway?

KH: I think Norway has a reputation of playing very direct soccer, but I think it varies from team to team. I would say the Norwegian league is more physical in terms of battling on the field than the U.S., but I think the U.S. emphasizes physical fitness more.

The other big difference is that the Norwegian league is year round. We start our preseason in January and finish the season the middle of November. In the U.S. (post college), we had about three weeks of preseason, starting in March/April, and ended our season in August. But we played two games a week in the U.S. and only one game a week in Norway.

MJ: What’s been your favorite experience in Toppserien so far?

KH: I have played on a couple underdog teams here in Norway, so for me it is always great to beat and compete with one of the top teams in the league. I will never forget the game I played with Amazon, the first year in 2014. We were playing Stabæk (a top team at the time) and completely outplayed them all over the field. We worked all winter on possession, and during that game, everything came together. I think it was one of the most fun games I have ever played in. We lost that game, but it was some of the best soccer we have played as a whole.

MJ: What are you most looking forward to about the 2016 Toppserien season with Vålerenga?

KH: I am looking forward to playing good soccer with a talented group of girls. I am excited to play under head coach David Brocken.

MJ: What do you enjoy most about Norway? Is it what you expected when you moved to the country?

KH: My grandfather is Norwegian, so I grew up eating lefse and trying lutefisk (not a fan!). I don’t remember what my expectations were of Norway, but I remember thinking everyone would be eating lutefisk and lefse. But I was wrong!

I enjoy living in a completely different culture and learning a new language. I met my fiancé playing for Amazon Grimstad, so I have had a lot of great experiences in Norway! Norway is such a beautiful country, and I am lucky to have ended up here.

MJ: What are your career goals?

KH: I am at the end of my career now, so I am focused on being the best player and teammate I can be and not taking these years for granted. I am looking forward to continuing my education in behavioral sciences and marrying my Norwegian Viking in skinny jeans!

This article originally appeared in the April 22, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.