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Clear the Air: Being an International Player at a Big Ten School with Hanna Németh and Kate Matthews

Playing on a soccer team of 30-year-old women as a 10-year-old. Being put on an all-boys team because all-girls teams did not exist. Traveling from Hungary, to Croatia, to America – chasing her soccer dream. Sounds like a lot? Sure, but not for Hanna Németh.

As a 23-year-old, Németh has already accomplished what most athletes hope to achieve in their entire athletic career.

From being a member of the Hungarian National Team to participating in the Istria Cup in Croatia to being named a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and three-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honoree, Németh has excelled immensely, on and off the field.

On the eighth edition of “Clear The Air,” Mina Denny is joined by her friend and colleague Kate Matthews to interview Németh about not only her experience being a defender on the IU women’s soccer team, but how her upbringing in Diósd, Hungary affected the kind of person and player she is today.

Németh has always been competitive, but growing up as a triplet may have allowed for that competitiveness to flourish.

“Ever since we were little, if one of us started doing something, then the rest of the triplets wanted to join right away,” Nemeth said. “I tried to beat my sisters in whatever it was, it was just a mindset.”

And that mindset stuck with her throughout the development of her technique and skill, trying to become the best player she could be.

Organized soccer is a bit different in countries other than the United States. Németh grew up playing soccer in unusual conditions, being that she was on an all-boys team for a while and played with grown women as a child.

While these experiences were fun and individual to who Németh is, she always knew she was destined for more.

“Stopping was never really an option,” Németh said. “Training never felt like something that I didn’t want to do.”

Defender Hanna Németh of the Indiana Hoosiers is pictured during the game between the Illinois Fighting Illini and the Indiana Hoosiers on March 13, 2021 at Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, IN. Photo By Missy Minear/Indiana Athletics

Realizing that she was one of the best soccer players in Hungary further reassured her that moving to the states and playing collegiate soccer in the Big Ten was the right decision.

Németh’s family was fully supportive of her decision to leave Diósd to continue her academic and athletic career.

Not only has Németh been able to experience playing soccer at the American level, but she’s outdone herself in academics, achieving a 4.0 GPA and recently being named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team. She will be graduating with her Master’s in December.

Németh finished her fifth and final season at IU this fall, but she’s not done yet. Professional soccer aspirations are very near in her future.

“It’s not a traditional career path, but it’s a very exciting process,” Németh said.

For a girl who wants to experience it all, Németh is ready to say goodbye to Bloomington and say hello to a new country and immerse herself in yet another new culture.

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