La Salle soccer player Alyssa Van Heurck made the most of her college experience before heading back to Australia

La Salle soccer player Alyssa Van Heurck made the most of her college experience before heading back to Australia

A quick Google search of Alyssa Van Heurck will bring up a detailed personal statement she wrote for the Next College Student Athlete website. She waxes poetic about her strengths as both a defender and a student, but it’s the last paragraph that really stands out.

“The amount of effort, positive attitude and dedication that I bring to both my studies and soccer field is demonstrated every day. My experience, commitment and strong training ethic will be an asset to any college coach and team. I am ready to dedicate myself to make the very best of my college experience.”

Her statement rings true throughout her years at La Salle. She was named to the Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll in 2018 and 2019, played in all 17 games of the 2018 season, 19 out of 20 games in the 2019 season, and all nine games of the shortened 2020 season.

Another, and maybe more unorthodox descriptor of Van Heurck comes from teammate Rilee Keenan.

“We’ll be sitting in the living room, and there’s, like, a giant a spider the size of my hand, and I’ll go to kill it, and she’ll be like, ‘No, no, no sit down, I’ve got it,’” Keenan laughs. “She’ll bring over a cup and a magazine and make sure that every part of that spider is intact.”

On a more serious note, Keenan corroborates what Van Heurck wrote about herself in that scouting profile all those years ago.

“I would say she’s very gritty, hardworking, very composed, she’s definitely a leader on the field, always communicating to everyone that’s in front of her or behind her,” Keenan said.

For someone so committed to her game and with such prominent leadership skills on the field, Van Heurck’s love of soccer came about through no choice of her own.

“When I was in elementary school, there was a new requirement that we had to do 30 minutes of physical exercise a day, and my teacher at that time, she loved soccer, so she made us play soccer every day, basically, for 30 minutes,” Van Heurck recalled. “So that’s when I started playing it, and I turned out to be pretty good at it and I really enjoyed it, so that’s when I started to find my passion for it. Then I played in club, and I just kept on going.”

Despite finding a passion for the sport, Van Heurck admitted that “it wasn’t always a big dream of mine to come to the U.S.” However, after talking to some older teammates about their experiences playing soccer in America, she figured she’d give it a go.

“They said all good things about it,” Van Heurck said. “They said it was such an amazing experience and they recommended it, so it was kind of just a ‘why not?’ sort of thing, like, let’s do it. I jumped for it, and I don’t regret it at all.”

In terms of how she ended up at La Salle, she was in search of a school that wasn’t like the schools in Australia, saying, “I was looking at schools on the East Coast because I wanted something that was different to the environment at home, like the weather and things like that. I was talking to my coach obviously, and we seemed to connect really well, so that’s why I ended up here at La Salle.”

From the minute she stepped off the plane, she was received as a true member of the Explorers team.

“The first day I arrived on campus, there were three teammates there to welcome me, and they brought me to their house and they were really welcoming,” Van Heurck recalled. “Luckily, there was another girl who was from Australia that I hadn’t met before, but that gave me a sense of security and she understood. It was so welcoming right off the bat. I appreciated that a lot.”

Her contributions on the field as a stalwart were immediately recognized, and she collected some points while she was at it. As a player, she proved herself to be invaluable. As a friend and teammate off the field, she’s no different.

“She’s still hardworking,” Keenan said. “She has high expectations for herself, she’s a go-getter. She’s funny, outgoing, basically one of the best people to be around.”

“I’m laidback, easygoing, although I think that’s the same thing,” Van Heurck laughs. “I like joking around and having fun.”

As a senior, she doesn’t have a lot of time left playing for the Blue & Gold. Senior Day is Sunday. But she does have big hopes for what this women’s soccer team will become once she graduates and goes back to Australia.

“If we don’t win it this year, I hope that we win an A10 title and go to the NCAA Championships,” Van Heurck said. “Just looking at the team, building on the skill…We’re becoming a more possession-orientated team, which is really good, really nice soccer to play, so I hope we just build on that and still continue to be an aggressive team and be pretty physical. I think that’s one of our best assets.”

As for what’s next for Van Heurck, her ambitions are like her playing style — straightforward, no-nonsense, and what you would expect from such a proven player and student.

“I think, so far, I plan to go back home to Australia, further my studies, probably go back to uni. And I want to continue playing soccer.”

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