Ilari Laine started playing football back home in Finland in 2012 at the age of 16. After competitive soccer and track careers he still needed something to play and his big brother played for the local football team called Tampere Saints. Ilari went to try it out and fell in love with the sport right away. He played the summer of 2012 and wanted to really improve his game in the offseason to be ready for the summer of 2013. During spring 2013 Laine was told about an opportunity to go play high school football in the US. He thought this is a great idea to develop his game for one year abroad and come back home and continue playing there. So in summer 2013 after playing a few games of the season Laine traveled to Utah to play for Layton Christian Academy. After a hard long season Laine had fallen in love with the competitiveness of high school ball and realized that this is what he wanted to do and get as good as possible at doing it. With things falling into place Laine decided to stay in Utah for his senior year and he graduated high school in May 2015. After making the decision to finish high school in the US his only goal has been to play college level football and get an education at the same time. As a senior he was selected to 2nd team All-State but still felt like he wasn’t even close to his best.
Ilari wouldn’t say that he was highly recruited out of high school even though some bigger schools had interest in him but as a guy who hadn’t played a lot of football yet he was looked at as a tall and athletic body that you could develop to be great overtime. Ilari still feels that he’s only starting to get to where he needs to be as an athlete. After getting some offers from smaller 4 year schools Ilari decided to play at the NCJAA level for North Dakota State College of Science and take a chance of getting a scholarship after playing two years at the JUCO. After a hard and injury full freshman season Ilari is healthy again and working hard every day to be able to be great his sophomore season and earn a scholarship to a four year school.
Laine says he’s definitely happy that he took the shot to try his skills in the US and had the courage to leave his “life” to come here and chase my dreams. It’s not always easy and you have hard times but I wouldn’t change a day. And for all the athletes with the same dreams and goals, if you have the same ambition as myself I encourage you to chase you’re dreams before it’s to late!