Opportunities continue to come for the Commonwealth’s players, as another member of the CNMI national team is set to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Thaiphi Austria, who played for the CNMI Men’s U19 National Team in last year’s Marianas Cup and also suited up for the Teen Ayuyus in several other off-island tournaments, has signed up with Trine University in Angola, Indiana. The Thunder is an NCAA Division III school and plays in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
“It’s a blessing to have this opportunity to play college soccer. I’ve been looking forward to this since I started high school and I am very excited that I will be able to continue my education and play soccer at Trine University,” said Austria, who according to Northern Mariana Islands Football Association Executive Committee member Norman Del Rosario is the 14th CNMI player that will compete in the collegiate level in the U.S.
At Trine University, Austria, who is a key player of TanHoldings Football Club, received an academic scholarship and financial aid, which he said will be very helpful, as he starts his new journey—both in soccer and his study. He is considering majoring in either physical therapy or civil engineering.
“I am looking forward to having more experience playing soccer at a much higher level,” said the Saipan Southern High School graduate.
“I will continue working on my game and learn many new things on and off the field. That way when I return to the CNMI to compete, I can help the team. This will be a very big step in my life as I transition from living in a small island to the states, but I am more than ready for the upcoming challenges,” Austria added.
The Teen Ayuyus co-captain, who also played in the Asian Football Confederation U19 Championship 2020 Qualifiers in Cambodia last year, will be joining his new team that was ranked in the Top 5 in the conference last season. Trine finished last year’s competition with a 6-10 record and made it to the MIAA Tournament for three straight seasons. The Thunder is coached by former pro David Jacobs, who played as goalkeeper in the U.S. and Mexico and was a Michigan Community College Athletic Association Coach of the Year awardee (2016).
Meanwhile, Austria thanked NMIFA, his coaches and teammates, and all the people who influenced him to have passion for soccer and for providing him with opportunities to improve his skills and represent the CNMI in international competitions.
“Thank you to my friends, family, coaches, teammates, and NMIFA for helping me become the player I am today. I will forever be grateful for all the kindness and support you have given me. This wouldn’t have been possible without your support,” the 18-year-old student-athlete said.