Soccer wasn’t the original reason that SF State goalkeeper decided to trade in the picturesque red rooftops of Sundsvall, Sweden for the California sun, but that hasn’t stopped her from making an impact in her first season with the Gators.
“I didn’t really fit in in Sweden and was kind of sick of it,” said Karin Nordin, 26. “I also wanted to study, so I said to my parents, ‘I’ll just do the one year in Santa Barbara.’ Then it ended up being three years.”
Nordin moved to Santa Barbara four years ago to attend Santa Barbara City College. She said originally, her only plans were to continue her studies and branch out out of her surroundings in Sweden.
During the first two years in the U.S., Nordin, who had been playing soccer regularly since the age of 6, played intramural soccer. It was when a Santa Barbara City College coach saw her play, that she was offered a spot on the team.
In her one season playing for SBCC, Nordin led a defense that posted seven clean sheets, according to the SBCC athletics website.
Nordin said she applied to SF State before she decided if she wanted to play soccer for the Gators.
“The team graduated a goalkeeper last year as a senior, so I really wanted to bring in someone with a lot of experience,” said head coach Tracy Hamm. “She’s a very good player with a very high work ethic and is definitely one of the most competitive players on the team.”
Her experience has proven to be an important part of the group, according to Hamm, who said Nordin always knows what her defenders should be doing.
“Her experience is crucial – the goalkeeper position is so much about being in the right place and organizing correctly,” said assistant coach Val Henderson. “You can’t buy experience, and she comes in with a wealth of that.”
On game days, Nordin – who has short, platinum blonde hair – can be heard yelling out her defenders’ names to get their attention. She also said she brings a certain intensity to the goalie’s box that’s reserved for her opponents.
“If you’re going to be a goalie, you kind of have to decide who’s winning as soon as you step on the field,” Nordin said. “Like, this is my goalie area, and if someone touches me, I’ll basically kill you.”
Nordin demonstrates a different demeanor off the field that her teammates have come to know.
“She’s hilarious,” said defender Paige Yeider. “She has a very unique personality that people are kind of drawn to. The fact that she’s from Europe adds a little flavor to the team.”
This season, Nordin has guided the Gators to a 6-3-2 record in the games she has played, with two shutouts and an average of one goal allowed per game, according to the SF State athletics website.
Her performance on the field thus far can be party attributed to feeling comfortable coming from such a different society, senior defender Molly Schuster said.
“She seems to really like it here,” Schuster said. “If you’re going to go anywhere from another country, San Francisco is a pretty good place to be because it’s so culturally different, so it’s easy to fit in.”
Nordin has fit in so well that she said she hasn’t felt the need to go back to Sweden for over a year, she said.
“My dad said, ‘You better come home for Christmas this time,’ because I haven’t been home for about a year and a half now,” Nordin said
Nordin said that she misses her friends and family, but doesn’t miss some aspects of the culture and society in Sweden. She said she enjoys living in America and hopes to stay as long as possible.
Although she hasn’t completely ruled out soccer as a part of her future, Nordin said she has bigger plans away from the soccer field.
“I really want to become a diplomat,” said Nordin, an international relations major. “I believe that I have a lot of international aspects that I feel that I can contribute to this country.”
But for now she’s content starting in front of the net for the Gators.
“I feel as if I have an amazing opportunity right now, and you can’t say no to amazing opportunities with an amazing team and amazing coaches.”