Once in a lifetime: Former Bethel QB Jaran Roste '21, GS'24 heads to France’s top football league

After a record-breaking Bethel career, Jaran Roste '21, GS'24 will play quarterback and serve as an assistant coach for the Leopards de Rouen in France. But it’s about much more than football. The opportunity gives Roste a chance to explore the history and culture of Europe.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, senior web content specialist

January 19, 2024 | 11:30 a.m.

Jaran Roste '21, GS'24 poses near the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

As he starts playing in France, Jaran Roste '21, GS'24 is learning as much French as he can, but admits it’s difficult. Fortunately, most other players on the team, especially the younger players, speak some English. And the team’s play calls are in English.

Jaran Roste '21, GS'24—Bethel football’s all-time leader in most passing categories—is taking his talents to France. Roste signed a deal to be the quarterback and an assistant coach for the Leopards de Rouen in Championnat Élite Division, the top American football league in France.

But it’s about more than football. It gives Roste, who majored in social studies education 5-12 and business and political science, the opportunity to explore Europe, its history, and its culture. “When else am I going to spend seven months in Europe?” Roste says. “It’s an experience that’s so unique and gives you the chance to see the world and see how different cultures operate differently from my own.” 

Roste, who grew up in Alexandria, Minnesota, transferred to Bethel in 2018 from a Division I school. At Bethel, he found a place where he’s grown on and off the field through his relationships with teammates, coaches, and others across campus. He credits his time at Bethel for fueling his eagerness to explore other cultures while learning to trust God’s plan for his life. “Without my time at Bethel learning from professors and friends and being able to understand my relationship with God better and understand myself better, I don’t think I would be in this position and have the same opportunity,” he says.

Jaran Roste '21, GS'24 poses at the Louvre Museum with members of the Bethels business department’s study abroad trip in Paris.

Jaran Roste '21, GS'24 is hoping to share his experiences abroad with friends and family from back home. Along with many people coming to visit, Roste met with the Bethel hockey team during their recent trip to Munich and the business department’s study abroad trip in Paris, going to places like the Louvre Museum.

On the field, Roste earned a place among Bethel athletics’ all-time greats as a dual-threat quarterback. But his Bethel playing career wasn’t without adversity. The 2020 fall football season was canceled due to COVID-19, but thanks to extended eligibility for players affected by the pandemic, Roste was able to finish his Bethel career on a high note by leading the 2022 Royals to the NCAA playoff quarterfinals for the fifth time in program history. Following that season, teams approached Roste about playing abroad in 2023, but the time didn’t feel right. The European season started weeks after Bethel’s season had ended, and Roste was working as an internship supervisor for Bethel’s BUILD program while pursuing an M.A. in Special Education. When teams approached again in 2023, he took a leave of absence from Bethel in November to practice for seven weeks with the Leopards in France. “I was blown away by everything that Europe has to offer, particularly France with the culture and so much history,” he says.

The Leopards’ 10-game season starts in February and lasts into June, with the Leopards playing the other five teams in the A Conference twice. The top three teams reach the playoffs, while the last-place team will be relegated. The Leopards were promoted last season, and Roste thinks they have the talent to reach the playoffs. “Once playoffs start, anything can happen,” he says with a smile. Along with serving as the first team’s quarterback, Roste will serve as quarterback coach and assistant offensive coach for the Leopards’ U17, U20, and B teams.

The Leopards de Rouen

Jaran Roste '21, GS'24 shot this photo of the Leopard's B-team, which he'll help coach. American football isn’t as prominent in Europe, where traditional football—soccer—is the top sport. In Rouen, Roste has met and talked with people who don’t know the sport or that Rouen has a team. Roste says it's fun to promote the team and football with new potential fans. And Roste has seen a dedicated and growing fanbase. “The people that know, know it at a pretty high level,” he says.

Since games are every other week and with easy, affordable travel across Europe, Roste plans to use as much time as he can to explore. He planned to study abroad in Europe in January 2021 with Bethel’s Department of Business, but the trip was canceled due to COVID-19. That left Roste eager to make the most of this opportunity. “I’ve got the rest of my life to work, so I might as well enjoy the time that I have in Europe, which will be a lot of fun,” he says. While in France in November, Roste loved exploring Rouen, which features many old buildings with architecture that wasn’t destroyed during World War II. With a flat in the middle of the city, Roste can easily walk to get a coffee and pastry—or just explore the city. He’s already traveled to nearby Paris along with Germany, the Czech Republic, and Prague. Roste is eying trips to Nice, Monaco, Lisbon, Barcelona, and Switzerland, where he plans to ski in the Alps. He’s perhaps most looking forward to a trip to Italy, which he views as one of the most fascinating places in the world due to the historical and cultural significance of places like Rome.

And he’ll share the opportunity with family and friends. He met with the Bethel hockey team during their recent trip to Munich and the business department’s study abroad trip in Paris. Then his parents, siblings, and friends are planning to come visit in the next few months. “It’ll be fun to kind of show people around,” he says. “Show them what I’ve learned, some of my favorite spots.”

Roste expects to reflect on his next steps and future opportunities to play abroad in the summer, but he’s approaching his time overseas as if it’s a one-time opportunity. “Right now, I’m just focused on getting the most I can out of these six to seven months,” he says. More time overseas would mean waiting on plans and goals at home, like finishing his master’s and diving into career opportunities.

Jaran Roste '21, GS'24 has worked with students in Bethel's BUILD program for the past three years.

Jaran Roste '21, GS'24 is sad to leave his role with Bethel’s BUILD program and loves the time he spent working at Bethel. Before working with the program, he volunteered as a BUILD mentor and then a BUILD housing mentor as a student. “I cannot speak highly enough of the BUILD program,” he says.

Though he was sad to leave his job with BUILD, he is pausing his M.A. in Special Education and plans to finish his final few classes after his time abroad. He is thankful for the flexibility of Bethel’s graduate programs. Moving forward, Roste would be interested in returning to work with Bethel’s BUILD program, and he wonders about one day working in public schools as a social studies teacher. Eventually, Roste wants to work in public school administration as a principal or activities director. “I love working with students,” he says. “Whatever I end up doing, I’ll be working with students. I think it’s my calling. It’s my vocation in life.”

Roste hopes his experience abroad paves the way for future Bethel football players. “They’re definitely good enough to pursue an opportunity abroad,” he says. “It’s been fantastic. It’s been worth it. There’s a reason that I’ve decided to go and spend the time and compete in this upcoming season. Because it’s an experience that’s amazing.”



A record-setting Bethel career

Jaran Roste '21, GS'24
Jaran Roste is perhaps one of the most decorated football players in Bethel’s history. He set numerous records during his time at Bethel:
  • 70 touchdown passes
  • 45 rushing touchdowns
  • 9,051 passing yards
  • 11,509 yards of total offense
  • 682 completions
    • He also ranks 10th all-time with 2,458 rushing yards and set Bethel’s single-season record for total offense with 3,084 yards in 2022.
Among many accolades, he won the 2022 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year award and was a four-time all-MIAC selection.


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