Zach Brendza | Features Editor
At age 5, Fredrik Borestein started to play the world’s game at Lincoln Community School in Ghana. By age 14, he was playing soccer in Singapore on a U-19 team.
Now he lives in Pittsburgh playing for the Dukes, an ocean away from his home in Bærum, Norway. Due to his father’s engineering career, his worldly travels have helped him in his transition to the United States.
“I’ve had that experience where I don’t speak the first language. It’s kind of different now because my family’s not with me,” Borenstein said. “I talk to them a lot so it’s basically the same. But I don’t get the home-cooked meals.”
His transition to the collegiate level hasn’t taken much time, if any at all. Through his first four games, Borenstein has scored three goals. But his production isn’t a product of his speed or strength. It’s his positioning on the pitch and knowledge of the game that’s led to his success.
“In America it’s about how fast you are and how quick you are, but I’m trying to use my strengths with my vision,” Borenstein said. “Just my technique, trying to play smart, find the right passes. That’s what I’m trying to do all the time.”
Since day one, Borenstein has worked hard and got right down to business, according to Coach Chase Brooks, and that’s continued throughout his time with the Red & Blue.
“He just gets the game, he understands the game and he has the technique to capitalize on what his work ethic allows him to do,” Brooks said. “We’re very fortunate that he’s here and the fact that he’s a freshmen is absolutely fantastic.”
When Borenstein takes the pitch for the Dukes, he wears No. 13. The usually unlucky numeral doesn’t bother him. He’s not superstitious, and if anything, it’s been his rabbit’s foot. He was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week and earned MVP honors in last week’s Duquesne Invitational.
“I’m not really sure how big it is [Rookie of the Week]. I don’t know so much about it. But I think its cool,” Borenstein said. “I don’t know if I’ll get many more like that.”
Before the Bluff, Borenstein attended the Norwegian College of Elite Sports for high school and played for Stabæk, an elite Norwegian soccer club and academy, 10 minutes away from his home. He played for the team for six years for the club where the focus was on technique and developing young talents.
In his last year in the academy, he trained with the first team. Former U.S. Men’s National Team coach Bob Bradley became the team’s manager in January, so Borenstein had the privilege of training underneath him for a month.
“He talked specifically to the center midfielders about your body angle and positioning on the field,” Borenstein said. “I’ve always tried to work on that, so when I get the ball, I have the most options available for me.
With the program he was a part of, Brooks knew he would be getting a great player from Stabæk.
“We knew he was coming from a great setup and learned a lot. It’s nice to get him and see it here,” Brooks said. “To get the response that we have from him has been fantastic.”
Even though he is acclimated to his new home, Borenstein gets homesick from time to time. The 3,870-mile trek back to Norway doesn’t allow for too many weekends at home.
“I think about it a lot. But as the days go, I kind of get used to it. I’m having a great time here, so that definitely helps,” Borenstein said.
But he isn’t all alone, as he’s not the only Scandinavian on the team. Sophomore left back Bendik Hellstroem is from Fanrem, Norway, just north of the country’s capital of Oslo.
“He’s like a little brother to me. I feel like I have to take care of him,” Hellstroem joked. “I want him to have a good time here. We Norwegians got to stick together, you know?”