Collegiate soccer season is in play, and Fordham University senior midfielder Danielle Etienne is excited to see the team find its rhythm. Under a new coaching staff, the team is feeling strong and showing improvement with every game.

Etienne, who grew up in New Jersey and comes from a soccer playing family, brings her international playing experience to Fordham. “Before I can even remember watching soccer games, I was at soccer games watching my dad play,” she said. As her father and brother did before her, she plays for the Haitian National Team. Her decision to do so is especially meaningful to her grandfather, who played soccer in Haiti before immigrating to the U.S. at age 19.

“I talk to my dad after every game,” said Etienne. “My grandfather will call me and say, ‘I’m so proud of you.’ That’s heartwarming and one of the reasons I wanted to play for the Haitian National Team.”

Another reason is gaining experience and skills, which each fall she brings back to her team at Fordham. “It definitely elevates my game to another level,” said Etienne. “There are different qualities that come when [the Haitian team] goes into training camp. It’s a high level and it makes you better. I’m around really strong players. They test me every time. They challenge me all the time. When I come back to Fordham, I try to bring that same thing to my team, challenge my teammates and make them better.”

In college and on the Haitian National Team, each year new players join, and familiar faces leave. Learning to adapt makes her more agile in new situations. A Psychology major and French minor, Etienne said it’s pretty easy for her to adjust to new teammates. A common goal bonds teams, she noted.

She chose Fordham because it is relatively close to home and is deeply appreciative of the university’s stellar academics. On track to graduate next spring, Etienne may take advantage of the additional year of eligibility available to any student-athlete who played in the 2020–21 school year and start a master’s degree program. Her goal after Fordham is to play soccer professionally, which her brother is currently doing with the Columbus Crew. While still a collegiate player, she hopes to help Haiti qualify for next year’s World Cup and the 2024 Olympics.

Fordham women’s soccer takes on Yale on Sunday in New Haven.

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