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Linus Ebert finds happiness in America

Linus Ebert finds happiness in America

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Linus Ebert (white jersey) is a key player on the West Liberty University football team and has already fought for a regular spot. © Author

Altenburg native Linus Ebert is currently completing a four-year sports scholarship in the United States. The 19-year-old football player is now on home leave and talks about his first collegiate season at West Liberty University and what it took to make a childhood dream come true in the movie “Kevin Alone in New York.”

It's already a classic before Christmas. Like “Dinner for One” on New Year's Eve: Episodes “Kevin Home Alone” and “Kevin Alone in New York”. The sight of little Kevin standing alone in front of the giant Christmas tree in front of Rockefeller Center is legendary. “It's been a childhood dream of mine. I've wanted to stand there ever since this movie, and now I've fulfilled this dream before Christmas,” says Linus Ebert, beaming from ear to ear.

The 19-year-old footballer, who will celebrate his 20th birthday at the end of February, has reason to smile this time around, especially from a sporting perspective. Starting in the summer of 2023, the Altenburg resident has completed a four-year sports scholarship at West Liberty University (West Virginia/USA). There, a good hour's drive away in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), the left-footer found his sporting joy. Especially when you consider that the midfielder has had to deal with some game setbacks in previous years. A highly prized talent, he once attended TSG Hoffenheim's sports boarding school, but after a good start he was repeatedly set back by injuries.

Through the Karlsruher SC youth team, he ended up at the Astoria Waldorf before being offered a sports scholarship in America. The “football coaches” there wanted Ebert on their college team after watching an application video, and then everything happened very quickly. » I don't regret for a second that I went there. Everything is fine. Americans are more relaxed and friendly in many respects, not so stubborn. “It's so cool at university,” Ebert said, unable to keep the grin off his face. Over Christmas and New Year's Eve he was on holiday in the Alsfeld district with his parents Stephanie and Karsten. This Saturday we head back to the US where the second semester starts on Monday – but without the league games. » Like other leagues in the US, the season here is very compact and played in a very short period of time, starting in September and ending in late November. “We continue to play practice and test games, but we don't have any competitive games until September,” says Ebert. His first season for his new college team was very successful for him personally. Played one. His team also reached the play-offs, but were unfortunately eliminated on penalties in the first round. But the most important thing for Linus Ebert was that he was healthy and enjoying football again.

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»As a first-year student, it was very good for me as “freshmen”, because it was very unusual to play for a long time right away. I mostly played around ten or eight years old and it worked well. It was a lot of fun. “Especially because we are a very international team, we incorporate many different playing styles in the team,” he reports. The 30-man squad includes Irish, English, Italians, a couple of Germans, a handful of Brazilians and plenty of Americans. The weekly schedule during the season is clearly defined: training takes place on Mondays and Tuesdays. A game on Wednesdays, a day off on Thursdays, training on Fridays and Saturdays and another league game on Sundays. You travel to away games on a typical American bus – the journey takes 30 minutes (“that's our derby opponent”) and five and a half hours. What's more, a game lasts 2 x 45 minutes as usual, but is played in real time.

That means the clock is stopped every time there is an interrupt. No overtime: When the clock runs out, it's over. Linus' parents followed all the games via “livestream” in Aldenburg. “With a six-hour time difference, it was sometimes 1 a.m. We met friends there and saw things together,” says dad Karsten, who coached his son in Altenburg early in his career.

What distinguishes “soccer” in America from soccer in Germany? » The biggest difference is that tactics are much less important in America. What counts here are running and physical qualities and personal actions. But I got used to it quickly. I'm a worker and a fighter on the field anyway, so I don't have any problem putting my stamp on the game,” said the business administration student, who works with others for free. Time sports offered at the university, such as basketball, football or volleyball (“It's very famous”). He has also played NHL ice hockey with the Pittsburgh Penguins (“It's unbelievable how fast they fly across the ice”). Next he wants to watch Pittsburgh Steelers football.

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He had no problem adjusting to everyday university life. After all, during his time at the football boarding school in Hoffenheim, he learned to stand on his own two feet and take charge. Language poses no problem for him. “It happened very quickly. In the beginning I thought in 'German' and translated it into English. But after three or four weeks it was over and I was thinking in English too,” says the 19-year-old. Performance at university was even better: Altenburger received three A's (corresponding to 1) and two B's (2).

Linus Ebert feels right at home in America, but has been enjoying himself at home for the past few days. “You walk through the front door and instantly feel at home, like you've never left.” Then he fulfilled another heartfelt wish: he was finally on a football team with his older brother Marlon. It didn't work when we were younger because of the age difference. But back home, Linus Ebert was granted permission to play at short notice for SG Altenburg/Eudorf/Schwabenrod, and he then appeared in the third team for SGAES in the opening round at the Alsfeld Indoor Masters. Brother Marlon was guarding Cole.

First fulfilling his dream of visiting the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York, then standing on the football field for the first time with his brother Marlon – Linus Ebert has many reasons to shine at this moment. Like Kevin McCallister, he finally finds his family back in New York and is no longer “alone in New York.”

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Linus Ebert was on a team with his brother Marlon for the first time at the Alsfeld Indoor Masters. © Author
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Linus Ebert (right) with teammates during a Pittsburgh Penguins NHL game at PPG Paints Arena. © Author
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Entrance area of ​​rural West Liberty University. The game is very important. © Author