U.S. soccer player uses Newfoundland roots to join Olympic-bound Canadian soccer team

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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Canada’s Lauren Sesselmann (16) fights for control of the ball with Mexico’s Dinora Garza during the first half of CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying soccer at B.C. Place in Vancouver, Jan. 27. — File photo by The Canadian Press

A pro soccer player from Wisconsin will sport a Maple Leaf at this summer’s Olympics because of her Newfoundland connection.

The roster for the Canadian women’s soccer hasn’t been finalized, but Lauren Sesselmann has been a key player since being invited to training camp last fall.

“I absolutely love it,” Sesselmann says of playing with Canada.

“I love the staff, I love everything Canada represents. This is like a perfect fit for me. I’m getting along with everyone. I’m learning new things everyday. ... We’re just having a really good year right now and it’s fun to be part of.”

Sesselmann, who spoke with The Telegram last week from a tournament in Cyprus, got called to camp after going through a lengthy citizenship process.

She was able to become a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen because her father was born in Stephenville while her grandfather was stationed at the U.S. airforce base there. The west coast town was her dad’s home for just a few years. Raised in Stevens Point, Wis., she has never been there.

“Everyone says I should go check (Newfoundland) out,” Sesselmann says. “I’m hoping to one day check it out. My dad and I have actually been talking about it, to go take a trip.”

 

It’s actually common for athletes to play for countries where a parent or grandparent was born.

While playing with Purdue University’s soccer team, Sesselmann says some teammates were playing internationally because of their mom or dad’s birthplace.

“I was like, Wow, my dad was born in Canada. I hadn’t really thought about it, so I talked to him and I was like, ‘Hey, I’d really love to be part of Team Canada. Let’s go through the process.’”

She wrote the team, which advised her to try and obtain citizenship and to send along a couple of videos.

Getting citizenship took a couple of years, and after numerous videos and emails, she got the call.

It’s been quite a ride since.

In January, the team qualified for the London Games with a 3-1 win over Mexico in an Olympic qualifier at Vancouver.

Sesselmann, who has converted to left back as member of the team, was part of it.

Teammates poked fun at what she sang as the rest of them did a victory rendition of “O Canada.”

“She was yelling,” goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc joked with the Vancouver Province. “I don’t know what she was yelling, but she was belting it out.”

According to her Twitter feed, Sesselmann was singing the national anthem while in Cyprus, where the Canadians lost to France in the final.

“I’ve known the anthem since September now ... do I need to make a video of me singing (for) everyone to believe?” she wrote.

Sesselmann finds it hard to believe she’s likely heading for the Olympics.

“It’s been a dream of mine every since I was little. I didn’t know if it would actually ever be a reality. It kind of just hit me these past couple of weeks after we did well in qualifiers. I’m just so unbelievably excited and I’m going to do everything that I can to be part of that Olympic team.”

For the past two summers, Sesselmann has played for the Atlanta Beat of the Women’s Professional Soccer league (WPS).

The season before she joined the Atlanta team, she won the WPS championship with the New Jersey Sky Blue.

She says she’s trying to figure out what she’ll do after she’s finished playing soccer.

There are some options.

Sesselmann works for a wine company called 24 that is owned by former Green Bay Packer Charles Woodson.

As well, she has a book for tweens, “The Killer Bees,” in the process of being published.

And the part-time model is set to begin filming an independent horror movie this fall.

 

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Twitter: SteveBartlett_

Organizations: The Telegram, Purdue University, Team Canada London Games

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Canada, U.S. Cyprus Wisconsin Maple Leaf Stephenville Stevens Point Mexico Vancouver Province France Atlanta Green Bay

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  • seanoairborne
    March 12, 2012 - 14:19

    How about you,Rob?Do you know the words to the anthem of the United States?

  • seanoairborne
    March 12, 2012 - 13:01

    Hey FLREXXA...Have Pamela Sue Anderson,Rich Little and literally thousands of other Canadians that live and work in the US given up their Canadian Citizenship after taking American citizenship?NO.They are dual citizens like this gal.She never gave up her American citizenship,she became a dual citizen like hundreds of thousands of other ex-pat Canadians,myself included!I would consider it a badge of honor to have a Canadian citizen fight for American citizenship to play a sport on an American team.And so would hundreds of millions other Americans like myself!We'd be damn proud,not petty like you.Folks like you have a problem with Americans in general.Why is that?I guess you bought into the old, Americans are not as good as Canadians because you have a social welfare system that suckles you from cradle to grave.Free medical care and things of that nature.So that makes you better than us?Just because the vast majority of working Canadians are footing the bill to the tune of almost 60 pct taxes on their incomes to take care of the deadbeats in society does not make you better than anyone,especially Americans.And your education system isn't any better than ours either,contrary to popular beleif.So stop it with the disparaging of this young American lady.She will do Canada proud!

  • Rob
    March 12, 2012 - 09:15

    Does she even know the national athem?

    • David
      March 12, 2012 - 11:30

      I saw Lauren play 2 years ago in Atlanta. She has worked very hard to get where she is. What is amazing to me is that how ugly, and mean people who have no idea who Lauren is or what she has done be critical. It is a great story of someone who saw her dream come true with many years of hard work. In Atlanta Lauren volunteered at soccer camps, worked with kids, and always stayed after the game to sign for the kids. Congratulations Lauren! You deserve every bit of happiness you have worked so hard for!! Thanks for always being so nice to my daughter and the kids in Atlanta!

  • flexxa
    March 12, 2012 - 08:42

    ...while it is nice to hear of this young ladies soccer success it's just another example of how unprivileged I feel as a "born here" Canadian. Seriously - her dad is born here to a serviceman stationed in Stephenville and this qualifies this gal to become a Canadian citizen. What a joke - one citizenship - if you want it you must give up the others.