Thomas Van Der Meulen, an international business major from the Netherlands and is a forward for the men’s soccer team at Oklahoma Christian University. The junior has led the team in goals this year and even scored a golden goal, a game-winning goal after regulation, which lead the Eagles to a victory.
In a recent interview with the Talon, Van Der Meulen answered questions about himself and his athletic accolades at Oklahoma Christian.
What year are you in school?
I am a junior in class but a freshman on the field. I got injured two years in a row and was able to get two redshirts.
Why did you redshirt last season?
Last season, I had two hernias in my stomach and a surgery. That injury is healed now, and my freshman year I tore my labral in my hip. I’m still in the training room almost every day to strengthen my hip and prevent injuries.
How do you feel about the team this year?
The team we have is really good. We have players from all over the world. Many guys graduated last year, so there are a lot of new players. The first few weeks we had to get used to each other’s playing styles, but our coach did a great job connecting us on and off the field. I also brought an old teammate with me, Bjarne Deraeve. He transferred this year to Oklahoma Christian. We speak the same language and play well together on the field. Some other players also brought old teammates with them, so it is good that a couple of the newcomers already had someone at Oklahoma Christian that they knew.
Is the flow of the game different in the U.S. than in the Netherlands?
Here, it is more physical, but the game is a little slower. Back home it is more technical. There aren’t many differences. We just start playing soccer when we are 5-6 years old because all we play is soccer. Over here there are many sports to try first and then later decide which one you like the most.
You’ve scored the majority of goals for the soccer team this year. Do you have any reason why?
The main reason is because of my teammates. I’m the forward, so they are the ones who deliver the ball in front of the goal. They are the reason I’m able to make goals. Some goals are lucky as well, being in the right position at the right time. Those goals come from the hard work of my teammates also.
What was it like to score a golden goal?
It was an amazing feeling. I did not know what to do and tried to run to the stands, but my teammates took me down before I could even get to the stands. We fought hard until the very last minute of overtime, so it was great to help the team out with a goal. This was my first game playing with the golden goal rule. In the Netherlands, we do not have the golden goal rule. After a goal in overtime, we still would have to finish the game or even go to penalty kicks.
What is your pregame ritual?
Before we walk on the field I pray, but about two hours before the game I just put my headphones on and try to visualize the game. Most of the guys do the same and start focusing on the game already. Nothing really special for my pregame ritual.
What is your favorite pre-game song?
I don’t have one particular song I always listen to. I just press shuffle on my playlist, which is mostly Drake songs.
How do you see the rest of the season going?
There are seven games left in our season. We are traveling to New Mexico soon to play a couple of ranked teams. We showed that we can easily compete with them. Our goal is to make it to the conference tournament.
What is something you want students to know about soccer?
Soccer is an all-around sport. We need to be able to do a bit of everything. It is way more complex than just kicking a ball and running. The games are 90 minutes, and we only get rest during halftime so it requires a lot of conditioning. Soccer is not really famous in the States. It was something I had to get used to because soccer is the biggest sport in a lot of other countries. I hope more students come out to support the soccer teams.