September 11, 2020

From Guarding Royalty to Defending a Dream

Phillip in His Majesty The King’s Guard’s uniform, guarding the royal residence in Norway.

Phillip in His Majesty The King’s Guard’s uniform, guarding the royal residence in Norway.

Phillip Eriksen served in His Majesty The King’s Guard in Norway prior to coming to UW-Superior

UW-Superior has welcomed many international students throughout the years with fascinating backgrounds and accomplishments, but Phillip Eriksen is the only one who can say he has served in His Majesty The King’s Guard.

Phillip, who hails from Skjetten, Norway, served in the Norwegian military and was assigned to the King’s Guard to defend the royal family’s residence – a role much like the more commonly known Queens Guard in London.

“It was a huge honor and you really represent all of Norway when you put on that uniform,” said Eriksen. “I had to take a series of physical and mental aptitude tests when I entered the military and when I found out I was chosen for The King’s Guard, I called my grandmother and mother and they both cried because they were so proud.”

Eriksen said the experience taught him discipline and perseverance, traits he relied heavily upon to pursue his dream of playing soccer and studying in the U.S. He and two other Norwegian soccer players, Nicolai Svensrud and Nicolai Stokker, chose UW-Superior over hundreds of other schools amidst many hurdles due to the pandemic and traveled thousands of miles to pursue their college and athletic dreams. The three join two other Norwegian soccer players already at UW-Superior.

 “For many months, I didn’t think I’d be able to come due to COVID-related restrictions, but fortunately I was finally able to get my visa,” said Eriksen. “It was disappointing when I first got the news that the soccer season had been cancelled, but we have to respect the pandemic, so I understand it very well. It is a dream for me to be able to study and play soccer in the United States, so I’m excited to start practice and training, and to get to know my teammates.”

Eriksen explained that universities in Norway do not offer athletics. The only way to continue playing after high school is through a club, which can be very time consuming, so typically people have to choose either academics or athletics, prompting many to study abroad in the United States where they can do both.

“I learned about UW-Superior through an international education agency,” said Eriksen. “I was impressed with the small size and the student-to-teacher ratio, as well as the beautiful location. I also liked Coach Joe Mooney’s philosophy and the supportive family-like team atmosphere. Even though I’ve never visited the campus in-person, I feel very confident in my decision.”

Phillip and the two Nicolai’s travelled together from Norway to join the Yellowjackets soccer team and continue their studies at UW-Superior this fall.“We are very excited to have Phillip join us this fall,” said Mooney. “I have no doubt that his talent will help us on game days, but I think it’s his character that will add the most value to our team. One of our greatest strengths as a program is the diversity within our team. We have players who look different than one another, have different socio-economic backgrounds, believe in different religions, have different political views, have grown up in places all over the world, and speak different first languages. It means that we challenge each other based on our own perspective and we embrace others’ perspectives, especially when they differ from our own.  The international students on our roster have added so much to our team’s core values and we are excited that despite the challenges COVID-19 has presented, we are able to continue that tradition this year.”

Eriksen plans to study marketing and hopes to go into marketing analytics after graduating. He also dreams of playing professional soccer.

When asked if he ever doubted his plans given the challenges COVID-19 has presented. “Not for a minute,” he said. “This has been my dream since I was young and if I learned one thing in the military, it’s how to work hard, never give up and press on to my goals. I plan to do just that at UW-Superior.”

Phillip in His Majesty The King’s Guard’s uniform, guarding the royal residence in Norway.

Phillip in His Majesty The King’s Guard’s uniform, guarding the royal residence in Norway.


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