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NNU’s Valentini Looks For New Challenges While Abroad
Lorenzo Valentini finished the 2019 season with five goals and an assist while leading the Nighthawks to three shutouts to earn First Team All-GNAC and GNAC Newcomer of the Year honors.
Lorenzo Valentini finished the 2019 season with five goals and an assist while leading the Nighthawks to three shutouts to earn First Team All-GNAC and GNAC Newcomer of the Year honors.
Lorenzo Valentini
Lorenzo Valentini

Monday, November 9, 2020
by Kaho Akau, GNAC Media Relations Assistant

NAMPA, Idaho – When Lorenzo Valentini put on a Northwest Nazarene jersey for the first time, he wasn’t quite sure how his first season of soccer in the United States would pan out.

Spoiler alert: His season went well. It went great, actually.

A defender from Saarbrücken, Germany, Valentini earned First Team All-GNAC honors as a sophomore and was named the 2019 GNAC Men’s Soccer Newcomer of the Year. He led the Nighthawks in three shutouts on the season and also scored five goals to go with an assist.

When the news broke that Valentini had received the end-of-season accolades, he didn’t know what to think of it. During the early stages of the 2019 season, he wasn’t aware that collegiate athletes in the U.S. received awards for their on-field performances. It wasn’t until his teammates mentioned it to him that he thought he might have a slim chance of claiming one of those awards.

“At first, I didn’t know that there were such awards,” Valentini said. “Throughout the season, some of my teammates told me about them. I didn’t expect to win any awards but I was happy when I found out.”

Sports aren’t integrated into colleges and universities in Germany, making it difficult to get a degree and play soccer at a high level at the same time. Valentini’s practice schedule would often overlap with his class schedule. He also had to drive long distances between school and soccer practice so it was nearly impossible for him to have any sort of balance in his life.

Valentini always wanted to study abroad. There was something about learning a new language and experiencing a new culture that piqued his interest. Continuing his collegiate career in the U.S. allowed him to dedicate his life to both his studies and soccer while soaking in the customs and traditions of being in a foreign country.

With two years of college already under his belt at the time, Valentini focused his energy on finding the right program to join so he could also stay on pace to graduate on time with a degree in kinesiology. He decided that Northwest Nazarene was the right place for him to develop not only as a soccer player but as a person.

“I had really good conversations with Coach Adam Pearce about his goals for the soccer program and I identified myself with his vision,” Valentini said. “I definitely stepped into a leadership role last year. I try to develop as a leader on and off the field to help my teammates in every way that I can.”

While Valentini may be a long ways away from Germany, he fits in perfectly at Northwest Nazarene both on campus and on the pitch. It’s easy to talk about the intellect and talent that he puts on display every time he competes. But that’s nothing compared to the quality of man that he is. Through his character and humility, he represents the Nighthawks and the positive direction that their program is headed in.

“Lorenzo has had an immediate impact on this program and university,” Pearce said. “In just one season, he established himself as a cornerstone of the principles and values that define Nighthawk men’s soccer. As a student, player, teammate and person, he is liked and respected by his teammates, peers, professors and coaches.”

It took some time for Valentini to familiarize himself with the American lifestyle. The food is different. The music is different. The soccer philosophies are different. The educational philosophies are also very different. Taking general education classes was something that he wasn’t used to doing at Saarland University in Saarbrücken.

Now a junior, he still often misses his family and friends but the weekly phone calls and the chance to fly back home for winter and summer breaks have been strong homesickness remedies.

“It has been a learning experience that I have enjoyed from the beginning,” Valentini said about his time in the states. “It’s not easy to go to a foreign country that you’ve never been to before. I had to learn a new language and adapt to a new environment, but that was exactly the challenge and excitement I was looking for.”

The challenges that come with studying abroad can sometimes seem insurmountable but Valentini has tackled those obstacles head-on. Along with finding outdoor adventures to embark on in the Nampa area, he also joined the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) this fall to get more involved in activities outside of soccer and academics. Becoming a SAAC member has allowed him to be a voice for his team and develop stronger leadership skills.

Valentini plans to graduate in the spring and pursue a Master of Business Administration at Northwest Nazarene next school year. He is eager to look for internship opportunities to gain work experience in the U.S., but returning to NNU also means that he will be able to finish his collegiate soccer career in a Nighthawks uniform.

“I will definitely be here for a while,” he said.

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