From UEL Basketball Scholar to Team GB

Rising East reporter, Sebastian Liggenstorfer meets the American Football star, Jordan Bolessa who started his career as a UEL Basketball scholar.

Jordon Bolessa is now in his second year at UEL and it couldn’t be any more different than his first. From a purely academic prospective everything is still the same but away from the lectures and deadlines everything has changed.

UEL Scholar

When he first came to UEL it was because they offered him a scholarship to play basketball for UEL’s first team. But even then he already had a passion for American Football.

Growing up he was used to stay up late and watch it with his dad, so it wasn’t surprising that he would join UEL’s American Football team the Titans.

At the beginning it was a real challenge for him to play both sports at the same time, because as a scholar he was technically not allowed to play any other sport than basketball.

“I had to keep it under raps that I play American Football. I wasn’t allowed to be in any pictures my name wasn’t allowed to be mentioned. I feel looking back on it I handled the situation a lot worse, I could have done it better. By not telling them I kind of ended up disengaging from the basketball team and then I stopped enjoying it altogether and in the long run I lost my scholarship,” said Bolessa.

Transition Period 

By mid-season in his first year he was already one of the most important and best players for the Titans. He plays at multiple positions offensively and defensively and is a leader on and off the field. He doesn’t shy away from any tackle and continues to improve with every game.

“I put it down to my background in basketball having the discipline [of] not being scared of performing in high pressure situations. Having everyone on your shoulders making the plays and also being physical and know[ing] how to compete.

“I learned a lot from basketball on a high level. And I am… able to transfer that into American football,” added Bolessa.

By the end of his first year he stopped playing basketball because he fell out of love with it and wanted to focus on American Football.

Bolessa then started to play senior ball over the summer for the London Hornets to further improve his competitive edge. When he looks back at how he secretly transitioned from basketball to American Football he would have done things differently.

“I would have probably openly told them. I think they would be alright with it as long as I played both sports. But when I was younger I didn’t end up where I wanted to be in Basketball which made me fall out of love with it. I took a year out and then came to UEL to restart the love for it, but it was never there.”

Rising Star

At the beginning of this season everyone on the team could see how much Jordon had improved over the summer while playing for the Hornets. He played so well that he was thinking about trying to go to a University in America so he could continue to play at the highest possible level. Bolessa started looking for any school which would offer him a scholarship.

In the meantime he was invited to a Team GB camp last November, where potential national team players were scouted over a weekend. He played well and is now on the GB’s roster as a safety. A couple of weeks ago Jordon went back to train with the team GB to prepare for international friendlies in the upcoming autumn.

Although his UEL season ended without making the playoffs he will be back next year focusing on being a leader to the team and trying to push the team to their first ever playoffs. At the same time he will bring his intensity and high energy to team GB.


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