Months ago, before the Lipscomb men’s soccer team played in the ASUN conference championship final, senior forward Jelldrik Dallmann of Kuhstedt, Germany, mentioned that his dream was to win a championship ring – and had been since he’d come to the United States.
The Bisons went on to do just that – win the final game, take the title of ASUN champions and win their rings. On top of all of that, Dallmann was named the ASUN Player of the Year for the 2022 season.
Once the championship rings made their way to Lipscomb’s campus, the team held a ceremony.
That tangible reward was new to Dallmann.
“They don’t have rings in Germany; they just have a cup,” Dallmann explained. “If you win something [in Germany], you get a cup as a team, and maybe individual awards — like if you’re the top scorer, you get maybe something, but no rings at all. That’s a very American thing. I don’t think the rest of the world have rings.
“I [knew] guys like Tom Brady, when they win the Super Bowl they get a ring. But I didn’t know that college students [in the States] get one as well. What’s funny is like at my first college I saw the track team, they won the nationals, and they got a ring. And at that point I knew I wanted a ring. That was the time.”
“So I saw the rings and I put it in my head. I want a degree. When I leave the States, I want a degree, and I want to win a ring. Those were my two goals.”Jelldrik Dallmann, senior forward
Dallmann began playing soccer when he was 3 years old, in Germany.
“Everything is soccer in Germany,” he said with a laugh. “In Germany there’s not other sports like in America you have the feeling like you can choose from so many sports; there’s basketball, baseball, football and soccer, or golf. In Germany, you can play these sports as well, but it’s not like in America. I think the next football team is like one hour away from me. And it’s just not a big sport like soccer is. So all your friends play soccer, and obviously like you start playing soccer then as well. That’s why I [started playing] I think – because of my friends and because it’s just the No. 1 sport there.”
Instead of leaving the sport as he got older, however, Dallmann kept playing.
“I fell in love with soccer,” he said. “I was pretty good as well because I was always ambitious. I was super ambitious as a kid, and that really got me better and better. And then I was good at it, and it was fun and I loved it.”
Dallmann graduated from high school in Germany still playing soccer. After that, it was off to the United States to play soccer “in the middle of nowhere in Kansas,” as he put it, at Cloud County Community College. He originally came to the United States only to study for one semester and improve his English.
“But I really liked it,” he said. “I had a good season my first semester, but I’d [promised my girlfriend back then] that I would come back.”
But as with most of us, COVID changed all of Dallmann’s plans.
“I was able to do all of my classes online, and then I said, ‘OK, whatever, I will just do it online from Germany.’ So 2020, I was a whole year at home. And then I said, ‘OK, now I have to do just one half-year to get my associate degree.'”
“So I said, ‘I’m coming over again,’ and I did.”Jelldrik Dallmann, senior forward
He played his COVID season in 2021 at Illinois Central College because Cloud County had canceled its soccer program. After graduating with his associate’s degree, he transferred to his first NCAA Division 1 college, Niagara University.
After a “very, very good season” at Niagara University, Dallmann entered the transfer portal one final time, looking to wind up in a bigger city. He ended up in Nashville, joining Lipscomb’s soccer team.
Lipscomb’s team had Dallmann excited regarding chasing his dream of winning a ring.
“I already knew that we’re going be able to win a ring with [Lipscomb’s] team,” he said. “Here was very realistic to win a ring. That was one of the reasons I came here as well.”
“And then we won the ring,” Dallmann said with a grin. “Some of the guys [on Lipscomb’s team] who have two or three rings, they were making fun of me because I just have one. But I told them like, one is more than enough for me. That was my goal, and that’s something special. I don’t need a second ring.
“This is something I will, when I’m 80 years old, when I have my grandchildren around me, I will put my ring on or have my ring on, and I’m gonna tell them the story how we won the ring. I really like those small things where you can tell a story about, and I’m living from memories. And this is definitely a good memory.”Jelldrik Dallmann, senior forward
Dallmann smiled once more.
“It’s a pretty ring as well,” he admitted. He was right about that. The championship ring sat on the table in front of him, drawing his attention throughout the interview.
“I’m just feeling so happy that I’ve finally done it,” he said, pointing to the ring. “And in two weeks I will get my degree as well. And then I’ll have everything I wanted here: I have got a degree, a good bachelor’s degree from a top university and a ring. I got the goals I set myself.”
And he’s looking forward to taking his ring back home.
“In Germany, all the people we see with rings, they’re something special; not many have them,” he said. “It’s just cool to say, ‘Hey, I studied in America, I won a ring there.’ I think here, for Americans, I would say it’s more normal, but for me it’s very special.”
This fall, Dallmann plans to head to Dallas, where he will pursue his master’s degree at Southern Methodist University and continue to play soccer in his last year of eligibility.
“My last year of eligibility is a bonus, and I’m gonna enjoy that year,” he said. “I’m really gonna enjoy it.”
Now that his academic and athletic dreams have both been realized, Dallmann said he is setting new goals and dreams to pursue…and is keeping his eye on professional soccer.
“I was one of the players who got nominated who could have been drafted last year,” Dallmann said. “And I was at a Nashville combine, which was nice. It’s a high goal, but being drafted would be awesome. That would be crazy, and would be just insane.
“But I don’t want to set it as a firm goal because I also see, if I get my master’s degree or with my bachelor’s degree, I can find a very good job as well. But right now I just want to enjoy my last year. After that, what happens, happens. And it’s going be good anyways because I have achieved everything I wanted to do.”
Dallmann said he is unsure as to whether his life after SMU will keep him in the United States or lead him back to Germany.
“I definitely want to stay here for my first job, or if I get drafted to play soccer [here], I want to play soccer; that’s obvious,” he said with a shrug. “But after that, when I’m around 30 or when I want to have kids and everything, then I want to go home back to Germany and live there the rest of my life. [I want to go back to] my small village with my family and friends — yeah, my boys are there, they’re all still there, and I definitely want to go home.
“I’m just super thankful that these coaches here at Lipscomb gave me the opportunity, trusted in me, and let me be a part of the team,” Dallmann said in closing. “I’m just so thankful. And I’m so happy that I can check the box now and that I have my ring.”
He laughed, and he held up the ring.