Soccer player. Tech-wiz. Entrepreneur. European–meet MSUM’s Annika Greaney.
Greaney, 23, is a computer science major and member of the Dragons soccer team.
Originally from the United Kingdom, Greaney’s family moved to her mother’s home country of Sweden when she was 10 years old. It was here, in the city of Gothenburg, where Greaney’s passions for computer science and soccer took shape.
She began building websites for Swedish academic institutions during early high school while honing her craft on the soccer field.
After playing soccer professionally at Torslanda IK in Sweden at the ripe age of 18, Greaney was recruited by MSUM. She was intrigued by the computer science program, and arrived in Moorhead before the fall of 2014.
Out of the gate at MSUM, Greaney thrived academically. She identified similarities between the Swedish high school and the United States’ postsecondary education systems.
“We were able to pick our classes,” Greaney said. “We have our own schedule and free time. There was not much of a difference in the academic routine when I transitioned.”
Greaney has seen her name on the dean’s list each semester since arriving at MSUM. She sports a 3.87 cumulative GPA and has been named to the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Fall All-Academic Team for three straight years.
In addition to distinguishing herself in the classroom, Greaney has made meaningful contact with the Fargo-Moorhead community.
Greaney has been an active member of Golden Key, an invite-only academic honor society for which only the top 15 percent of college students qualify internationally. The honor society handles many local community outreach projects. She also volunteers weekly at Churches United for the Homeless in Moorhead, where she exposes underprivileged children to computer games they would otherwise miss the chance to play.
On campus, Greaney spent two years at the helm of MSUM’s International Student Orientation, but her pet project is Code, the student organization she has orchestrated in coordination with the computer science department.
“When I was younger,” Greaney explained, “the only reason I got into computers was because I taught myself. A couple of my friends here felt the same, and we agreed that wasn’t the easiest way for all.”
Code brings local middle and high school students to the MSUM campus to learn entry-level programming skills and coding language. Over the course of two years, the program has reached over 200 kids across Clay County. Greaney is delighted to see several graduates of the “Code” program currently attend MSUM with an eye on a degree in computer science.
Head coach Christie Kopietz took the job in 2016, and has seen Greaney transform from shy and reserved to a more confident and outgoing individual. Kopietz sees the importance in athletes playing a dynamic role on campus, separate from their athletic obligations.
“I think it is important to be well rounded,” Kopietz said. “Being part of the bigger campus community provides that. It’s also a really great way to network and develop skills you might need for work or life down the road.”
Despite her consistent success outside of athletics, Greaney’s availability on the pitch has been erratic.
Coming off a promising freshman season in 2014, Greaney tore her ACL the following spring. Surgery and rehabilitation forced a medical redshirt in 2015. She returned as an integral component of the Dragons’ attacking line during her redshirt sophomore and junior seasons, but battled a series of concussions. In 2018, her senior season was cut short by a more severe tear of the previously repaired ACL. Despite never being healthy and available for an entire season, Greaney has found growth through the trials.
“You have to pick yourself up,” Greaney said. “Soccer has been my life for so long, but you become mentally strong through the struggles. You become more determined to improve, and you always want to be there for your teammates.”
Though she believes she could receive another year of eligibility from the NCAA through a long and tedious process, Greaney’s soccer career as a Dragon has ultimately reached its end. In total, she appeared in 42 games with 28 starts and netted four goals, including two game-winners for the Dragons as a redshirt sophomore year.
Even in the wake of Greaney’s most recent injury, she continues to be a contributing member along the sidelines for the Dragons. Coach Kopietz recognizes the value in having that seasoned vocal presence to help along the youthful Dragons’ attack.
“Annika has an in-depth knowledge of the game,” Kopietz said. “I can see her giving insight to her teammates on the sideline.”
Upon graduation, Greaney expects to enter NDSU’s computer science graduate program. If she captures the extra year of NCAA eligibility, she hopes to try out for Bison soccer.
If not, Greaney has plenty of things to occupy herself with, including her promising startup tech company that plans to provide a benevolent service. Rising Tide Software, of which Greaney is a co-founder and the lead software engineer, is developing software for first responders in mass emergencies situations. Greaney believes that when finished, the software will exponentially improve their response time.
Rising Tide received a grant from the Awesome Foundation, a local group of entrepreneurs that fund up-and-coming businesses seeking to help the Fargo-Moorhead community. The company has already established a relationship with the West Fargo Police, running a pilot program with the department.
The philanthropic potential of software like Rising Tide kindles Greaney’s passion for coding and computer science.
“I can create something that helps others and fulfills a need,” Greaney said. “Being able to provide something that benefits the community and that you know can help people really makes the ‘work’ a blast.”