Jerry Del Priore
It’s nothing short of remarkable that Brooklyn High School standout student-athlete Mads Pfeiffer signed with a Division-I college to play soccer (futbol).
After all, the Jets aren’t a part of the Public School Athletic League (PSAL); they play in the New York Independent School league (NYISL), which is made up of eight small New York City high school teams.
Furthermore, BHSLT doesn’t have its own field and he has only one year of club soccer experience, for the SC Gjøa U18 Premier (Eastern New York League), making it harder for Pfeiffer to get noticed.
But when the six-foot-three center back told his coach, Chris Rohner, that he was truly committed to playing D-I soccer, the 43-year-old Bay Ridge resident did everything in his power to make it happen.
As a result, Pfeiffer, through talent and a diligent work ethic as well, signed a letter of intent last month to play D-1 soccer at Longwood University in Virginia in the fall.
However, the Denmark, Copenhagen, native earned a partial academic scholarship, and said he will have to play his way into more scholarship money as each year progresses at Longwood.
“Soccer is different than basketball and American football,” Rohner explained. “They just don’t hand out full athletic scholarships like they do in those other sports. Even on a division-I team, the majority of the other guys aren’t on full athletic scholarships. Maybe some guys are on partial athletic scholarships and partial academics, and they’re (still) paying their way. That’s what it takes often to be a division-I soccer player.”
Nonetheless, that’s pretty amazing considering Pfeiffer didn’t speak much English when he came to Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, approximately four years ago.
A testament to his character, fitting in at BHSLT has never been troublesome for Pfeiffer, even though he has been one of a few Caucasian students during his time at the school.
“I settled in fairly quickly,” said Pfeiffer, who moved to Brooklyn after his mother met her now-husband while visiting NYC on a music tour, as she is a musician. “I never have been treated any different than any other people. It doesn’t matter what color we are. It’s been easy for me to fit in over here.”
Rohner doesn’t necessarily think earning an athletic scholarship while playing soccer at the college level as a terrible thing, even for his star player, saying most players are required to prove themselves at the collegiate ranks before athletic money is handed out.
“I actually think it’s not a bad system,” he said. “You make them earn it, not just based on what they did in high school.” Saying, “‘You were a great player in high school, but can you come to a college campus and college program, and can you earn a scholarship based on what you do at the college level with our team?”’
As for Pfeiffer, Rohner said, “Mads has earned everything in his life so far, all of his success, through hard work. So, I think that’s a challenge he’ll embrace at Longwood.”
Pfeiffer’s high school career hasn’t gone without its adversary, however, as he was stuck in Demark for seven months because of immigration issues, Rohner said. But he returned for the latter part of his sophomore year.
Soccer aside, what Longwood is getting, according to Rohner, is a student-athlete who pulls a 90+ GPA and plays the game with unadulterated passion. Plus, Pfeiffer, who turned down St. Francis (Brooklyn) College, is a total team player, with the intangibles to help guide his squad to victory time and time again.
Most importantly, though, Rohner said he’s a great overall person.
“He is what we call a character guy,” the Cincinnati, Ohio, native said. “He’s just a great human being. He has an integrity and honesty about him. He’s a hard worker, and he listens. We (coaching staff) throw around the word coachable. He is as coachable as any player I ever coached in my entire ten-year career. Mads has something that most players don’t have, which is the ability to lead others.”
While Pfeiffer dreams of playing professionally someday, he plans on studying communications, which, he said, Longwood possess a solid program and was one of the reasons why he selected the school.
In fact, he used to turnoff the voice on his PlayStation and call the play-by-play action of his FIFA games.
Meanwhile, the 185-pounder is chomping at the bit to start the spring season, then prepare himself for the rigors of being a college student-athlete at Longwood, who plays in the competitive Big South Conference.
“Yes, I’m ready for that competition at college,” Pfeiffer confidently said. “I’m preparing myself now and been practicing and playing six times a week—three days with my club team, and three days with my school team. Plus, days when I’m off from soccer, I go to the gym to get stronger physically so I’m ready for the college level. And on my days off (completely), I rest.”
That’s all in a week’s work for the Denmark-born, small school kid who headed to the next level.
To view the Jets’ high school soccer schedule, log onto to http://www.nyisl.org/.