Since arriving from his native Switzerland, men’s soccer standout Noah Luescher has more than found
In August 2017, Noah Luescher arrived at Binghamton University for the first time. He was an incoming freshman men's soccer player from Switzerland and was stepping into an unfamiliar culture. He had yet to personally meet anyone on campus and was on the other side of the world from his family back home. Luescher, however, was more than capable of rising up to the challenge. Two years later, Luescher has fully assimilated himself into life at Binghamton University. He has become one of the top players on the men's soccer team and was named the 2017 America East Conference Rookie of the Year. This past May, he was inducted into the National College Athlete Honor Society as a result of his academic accomplishments. In addition, Luescher's involvement within the athletic department and in the greater Binghamton community earned him a spot on this year's America East's Helping Hands Team. Through his passions for the sport of soccer, his academics as well as the people around him, Luescher has managed to steer through the challenge of adapting to a new culture. As he looks ahead to a promising last two years at Binghamton University, one can't help but look back and see how he got to where he is today. Deep Roots Located more than 4,000 miles away from Binghamton, Meisterschwanden is a small village in the northern part of Switzerland. Its population is only around 3,000 people, making it a place where everyone knows each other well. Family life is central to its residents, a value that has always meant a lot to Luescher. "I am a family person," he said. "My family is and always will be my top priority and I am very close to them. My parents have influenced me more than any other people and have helped me become the man I am today." If family was Luescher's top priority growing up, soccer was second. He started playing before his third birthday and has been hooked on the sport ever since. "I had my first training session when I was two years old," he said. "I loved it right from the start and knew from the beginning that my goal was to be a soccer player. My mom used to tell me that all she had to do to satisfy me was give me a ball and let me play." For Luescher's father Urs, that first training session also remains vivid in his memory. "When Noah was two years old, he started to play at the soccer club of Meisterschwanden," he said. "He was far too young compared with the others. All the clothes were much too big for him. The T-shirt he wore looked like a dress. Already at this stage, however, you could see his skills and his talent." Luescher's passion for soccer extended well beyond the time that he was on the field playing. "After every game when we came home, no matter how exhausted he was, he continued playing soccer in our garden for hours and hours," Urs said. "I realized at that young age that soccer was his passion." Luescher played for his local club team until he was nine. After that, he joined the FC Aarau Youth Academy and remained with that organization for the next decade. "I had a great time with FC Aarau," he said. "I was able to have my first experience playing for its top team, which was great for a young player like I was." As Luescher continued to develop, the prospect of playing professionally in Switzerland became stronger. He was being scouted by professional clubs but it was a chance discovery in 2017 that would forever change life for him and his family. Making the Grade When Luescher first arrived at Binghamton University, he had goals that extended beyond soccer. He wanted to get into the School of Management, which he achieved by the time he was a sophomore. "It is a privilege to be a part of the School of Management," he said. "It is ranked as one of the top business schools in the country and allows us to get in contact with the biggest companies in the world. Not only are they preparing us for the business world -- they are connecting us to it with networking events and opportunities throughout the whole year. My first goal is to play soccer after I graduate but having an MBA from the School of Management is a ticket into the business world." While Marco has gotten to know Luescher first-hand within the men's soccer program, Assistant Athletic Director Kristie Bowers has formed the same relationship with him in terms of his academics. She too remembers meeting Luescher for the first time. "My first impressions of Noah were incredibly positive," she said. "When he arrived on campus in August 2017 for preseason, he was eager and well prepared for the balance of being a student and an athlete on our campus. He quickly articulated what success would look like for him and was willing to utilize any support that our Student-Athlete Success Center staff and tutors could provide him to achieve his goals." Luescher was named to the America East Commissioner's Honor Roll his freshman year and was a repeat selection his sophomore season. He attributes his success to both hard work and good time management skills. "Being a student-athlete is all about time management," he said. "It can be overwhelming sometimes to manage exams, assignments, homework, practice, and games all at once but if you manage your time well, go to your classes, get your work done and stay on top of your game you'll be fine. I like to plan out my weeks beforehand to know when and what to do and not to get stressed by the amount of work I have to do." To Bowers, however, Luescher's success is due more to his personal qualities. "Noah is a successful student-athlete because of his strength of character and discipline," she said. "When confronted with challenges, Noah is willing to ask for help if needed but also use his grittiness to persevere. Adjusting to the rigorous academic and athletic experience at Binghamton, Noah has found ways to see the bigger picture than just what he needed to do." As impressed as she is with Luescher's academic success, Bowers is even more so with him as a person. "Noah is one of the highest character student-athletes I have had the pleasure of working with," she said. "His authentic nature and genuine care for the success of others has garnered a great deal of respect from both his peers and myself." In addition to Bowers and the Student-Athlete Success Center, Luescher credits the Binghamton men's soccer program with establishing a culture that lends itself to achieving in the classroom. "Binghamton is one of the best schools in the country and you have to be on top of your academics all the time to get through it," he said. "Our coaches know that and encourage us all the time to do well in the classroom. Assigned study hall hours, weekly meetings between coach and academic advisors and lots of reminders are just three of many tools the staff uses to keep us on track with our academics which is crucially important." In the end, however, Luescher knows that it has been his responsibility above anyone else to stay on task with his studies. "Our coaches and academic advisors can only do so much," he said. "In the end, it is up to each and every one of us to get the work done and excel in the classroom." Luescher got things done so well that he was inducted into the National College Athlete Honor Society in May 2019 with a 3.7 cumulative GPA. It was one of two major honors he received that month. He also was chosen America East Helping Hands Award for his involvement in the Binghamton campus and local community. It was a clear sign that athletics and academics weren't the only areas Luescher was shining in. Reaching Out By his sophomore year, Luescher had found a home at Binghamton, thanks to coaches, teammates and academic support staff members who had made him feel welcome. At this point, he was ready to meet new people and help them out in the same way. The first way Luescher did this was through the community work the men's soccer team took part in each year. He volunteered to help local organizations such as Vestal Special Olympics, CreateABLE Fair Play and SUNY's Got Your Back. "We try every semester to help as many people as we can and give back to the community that has taken us in as BU student-athletes," he said. "We are able to spend time with a lot of people from the area and become role models for them which is absolutely fantastic and motivating." Luescher took that approach one step further. He joined Binghamton's Student-Athlete Leadership Institute, known as Explore, Engage & B You (EEBU). Since 2017, EEBU has given student-athletes the opportunity to grow as leaders, within their teams as well as the overall university. "Being part of the EEBU leadership team has been great so far," Luescher said. "It helps me grow as a leader and gives me the opportunity to meet new people and make new connections in different areas. It also helps me learn important information regarding making healthy decisions as a college student. EEBU is a great program and I'm proud of being a part of it." Luescher credits EEBU with giving him the tools and resources to reaching out to others on campus who might be going through a difficult time. "Not only can I apply what I've learned to my everyday life," he said. "But I can also help friends that might be struggling with college stress and how they handle it." Like Marco and Bowers, Assistant Athletic Director Linda Reynolds has gotten to know Luescher on a first-hand basis. She is the staff advisor for EEBU and vividly remembers when Luescher first came to one of their meetings. "I remember him being eager to join our Athletics Leadership Institute when he got the invitation and when he did come to the first meeting he didn't hesitate to speak up and have a voice in the room," she said. "Noah was an immediate contributor who you could tell wanted to better himself." As Luescher got more involved with EEBU, Reynolds was struck with how serious he took his commitment. "Noah is the guy that if I tell him an event is business casual, he will still show up in a full suit," she said. "He is someone who carries himself with confidence but will also go up to anyone in the room and start a conversation." One such conversation Reynolds especially remembers came a dinner at the end of the 2018 fall semester. "I remember very clearly at our alumni dinner this past December when Noah raised his hand and asked the keynote speaker, former cross country runner Chris Gaube, how he was able to get all of his team on the same page and working towards the collective goal of winning a championship," she said. "It was an innocent question at the time, but it really struck me because it was evident in the way Noah asked the question that he really wanted to know how he could become a leader." Not Done Yet In May 2019, Luescher left Binghamton University for the summer. Contrary to what many people would think, he did not return to Switzerland. Instead, Luescher went out to Iowa to compete for the Des Moines Menace of the Premier Development League (PDL). The PDL is a developmental soccer league sponsored by United Soccer Leagues (USL) in North America. Each summer, several college players join players with professional experience on PDL teams. The goal is to improve as players when they return to campus in the fall. "Playing in the PDL a great opportunity for me to get exposure and compete with players that have had professional experience and play on a high level," Luescher said. "It is going to help me grow as a player and step up my game." Unlike Binghamton's men's soccer program, which had 28 players on its 2018 roster, there are over 40 players with Des Moines. Many of those players are older and more experienced than Luescher. "The competition to play in games is immense since we have more than 40 players on the roster," he said. "You have to be on top of your game every session because there are other players waiting for their chance to play. It is a great opportunity for me to play this summer and come back to Binghamton ready to go for my junior season." Back in Binghamton, Marco has watched Luescher play in some matches with Des Moines and has been pleased with what he has seen. "Noah's experience in Des Moines has been great," he said. "He had to really get hard to get into the lineup but when he has gotten playing time, he has done very well. I have had a chance to watch a few of the matches online and I've been really proud of him and happy that the summer has worked out for him so far." Luescher is confident that the fall will work out for the Binghamton men's soccer team. Although Bearcats missed the conference tournament again in 2018, he has been encouraged with the development of the program since last season. "We've gone through a rough time but we have been willing to change things this year," he said. "We have grown together a lot this spring season and I believe that with the new additions to the team we can really surprise everyone this year." Marco sees Luescher as a huge key to the success of this year's squad – both as a player and a leader. "Noah helps set the mood for our team," he said. "He has taken on a good leadership role on the team and has already reached out to several of our new players. He has big goals both for himself and the team and is going after them." Luescher is also eager to begin his junior year academically. It will be his second year in the School of Management and the courses for his major will be a lot more advanced. "I'm really excited to see what these next semesters are going to hold for me academically," he said. "I am lucky enough to be enrolled in such a professional and well-led business school that prepares you for life after college. It's not going to be easy but definitely worth putting in the work in such a motivating environment." In addition, Luescher is motivated by being further involved within the Binghamton campus and greater community this upcoming year. "I think I speak for the whole men's soccer team and EEBU when I say that we are looking forward to reaching out to more people this year," he said. "We want to help many more people and bring smiles to their faces." No matter what the future holds for Luescher, the path that he has taken to get to where he is today is impressive. He has no doubt that he has grown as a person since arriving at Binghamton. He is also looking forward to growing even more before he graduates. "I have grown a lot since I came here two years ago," he said. "Adapting to a new culture and starting a new life all by myself has made me a lot more mature and taught me a lot. I have a lot of responsibility which I love to take on. I am halfway through college right now and have grown so much. I am really looking forward to finding out what the next two years at Binghamton University hold for me. I can't wait to see where they will take me and how much more I can grow as a player, a leader and a person."