By Steve Williams
In the pre-match introduction of West High School’s starting soccer team last Wednesday night, its exchange student from Denmark was announced as Tobias “The Dane Train of Pain” Hageltorn.
Perhaps that’s because the 6-foot-4 junior striker had scored a school record tying 26 goals this season, giving most of the teams he had played against plenty of trouble.
Throughout the District 3-3A semifinal match against Karns, shouts of “Tobi” (pronounced Toe-bee) would often be heard from the Rebels’ fans at Bill Wilson Field or pitch, if you prefer.
The reason for that had to be because Hageltorn is a season-long crowd favorite. He is fun to watch. He hustles and works hard to score.
However, last Wednesday’s match turned out to be a rare one. West beat Karns 9-0, but Tobias only managed one assist and it came on the first goal in the 23rd minute.
“I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to score a goal today; I’m not going to lie,” he said in a post-match interview. “I’m sad that I didn’t get to help the team more than I did. But I’m going to keep working on it and be ready on Friday.”
And that he was.
Hageltorn scored his record-breaking 27th goal in the second half of West’s 3-1 win over Oak Ridge that gave the Rebels the district championship.
In the match against Karns, Dr. Nick Kim, West’s head coach, said: “Tobias was getting double and triple teamed. I was trying to tell him other people are going to be open because they are just over guarding you. So that’s what we did. We moved the ball around. Just because he doesn’t score doesn’t mean the team can’t score.”
Dr. Kim is very impressed with Hageltorn.
“His ability to move the ball however he would like – dribbling, shooting, passing – it’s incredible,” he said. “He’s one of the best players I’ve seen in Knoxville.”
When asked if Hageltorn had a chance to play professional soccer someday, Dr. Kim answered: “Absolutely.”
What has the attention of Tobias and the West soccer team now, however, is Tuesday night’s Region 2-3A semifinal home match against Hardin Valley Academy, a very good team that lost 1-0 to unbeaten Bearden in the District 4-3A finals. The Hawks are 10-2-6, while the Rebels are 18-1-1.
It will be an elimination match, with the winner advancing to the region finals against the winner of the Bearden (15-0-3) versus Oak Ridge (12-3-2) match.
The winner of the West-HVA match will host the Region 2 finals Thursday night.
Sectional matches will be played Saturday.
In West’s win over Karns, William Brush led the way with three goals. Jackson Novinger had two goals and two assists. Fletcher Freeman contributed one goal and one assist. William Harriman, Grayson Huffaker and Dieudonne Kato each had one goal.
Goal keeper Yaelson Robles Gudino stood out for Karns with seven saves.
Oak Ridge took a 1-0 lead in the district title match, but Brush tied it was a goal off a corner kick by Novinger. Wyatt Marlar broke the tie early in the second half with a goal off Daniel Drata’s header. Hagelton’s goal came from 20 yards away and gave West its 3-1 lead.
EF Exchange Year Coordinators have hosted 36 students
The EF in the title stands for “Education First” said Lendelle Clark. He and his wife Sue have been with the program since 1988 when they had their first exchange student, Yassemin Arhan from Sweden, who attended Farragut High.
“We’ve been zoned for Farragut, Bearden and now Hardin Valley, but I work here at West,” said Lendelle. “We’ve had 36 students and seven that are married and six that have kids.And we’ve been to weddings in Spain, Germany, Brazil, Switzerland and Sweden.”
Tobias arrived in the United States about a week before school started last August. He’ll leave to go back home on May 29.
“They can just stay one year under the exchange program,” said Lendelle. “He’s going to be sad because he knows about every boy and girl’s name at West High School.”
During his time at West, Hageltorn has excelled in academics as well as soccer.
“He received three ‘Best of the West’ awards – one in Chemistry, one in German and one in Math, and then he got a Citizenship award,” said Lendelle.
“Chick-fil-A has become a favorite food item of his. And he likes refills. Over there you have to pay for it.
“We stop at Chick-fil-A every Friday morning on the way to school.”
Lendelle said what has impressed him most about Tobias is “his smartness, personality and friendship. You’ll see he has a smile all of the time.
“He’s the first student we’ve had that goes to church 100 percent of the time,” added Clark. “That includes Sunday school and church, the Wednesday youth meeting, Young Life on Thursday and FCA on Friday morning.”
Sue added that there are three or four ladies that always “want a hug” from Tobias on Wednesday nights before church.
“His parents came over about three weeks ago and stayed 10 days,” said Lendelle. “They went to the games to see him play.”
When Tobias leaves, “It’s going to be sad,” said Lendelle. “We shed a few tears when they go back.”
Special comments from and for Tobias
What Tobias says about the team …
“This is not a team anymore; it’s a family. I’m so happy that I got to play with these guys. It’s a pleasure to wake up every day and then know I get to practice with these guys, who treat me like a brother.”
Memorable moments of West High …
“Definitely the nice people, the good teachers and the good staff all-round,” said Tobias. “And the energy at the school is really nice. It’s a place I genuinely wake up every day and actually want to go to school. It’s a good place to be. I’m blessed that God gave me this opportunity to go to West. I really am.”
Tobias on being away from home …
“Yes, it’s a little tough and I miss my parents, but I got the best host family here with the Clarks and I got some really good friends on the soccer team and at the school in general.”
“It’s important for me that I go to church and I go to Central Bearden. It’s a great church with a lot of great people there. I really enjoy it.”
What Dr. Kim says about Tobias:
“An exchange student winning the Citizenship award means a lot.”
“In five of seven classes he was the best student of that class.”
“I’m super impressed with Tobias’ ability to lead the team as a junior. He’s a natural leader.”
“He was a great surprise addition that I didn’t know was coming.”