Former St. Thomas football star Fritz Waldvogel has become an instant star in the German Football League.
Despite getting a late start with the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, Waldvogel scored five touchdowns in his first game against the Saarland Hurricanes, guiding his team to a 57-28 victory.
“It felt great to play well in the first game,” Waldvogel said. “It made me feel better knowing I made an impact right away.”
Waldvogel, who graduated in May, was selected to play for the Unicorns after an impressive career with the Tommies. He has enjoyed the competition in Germany, playing against several Division I and Division II American athletes as well.
“There are some really good players here,” Waldvogel said. “The football is high quality football.”
Waldvogel’s overseas’ success comes as no surprise to former teammates Matt O’Connell and Joe Novitzki.
“I didn’t have one doubt that he wasn’t going to excel over there,” O’Connell said. “He’s a very competitive kind of guy.”
Novitzki agreed, adding, “You don’t think he’s going to perform the way he does just by looking at him; but the first time I saw him on the field, it was just incredible.”
The biggest difference for Waldvogel between playing for the Tommies and the Unicorns is increased free time – a welcomed perk. With no school work to complete after practice every night, Waldvogel has been keeping busy traveling around Europe. He spent a week in Italy and will be traveling to Berlin and Prague over a two-week hiatus.
“Being able to see Europe and play football at the same time is kind of the perfect balance,” Waldvogel said.
As with any person a world away from family, Waldvogel said he can get a little homesick; but all the technology available today makes it less challenging. He stays in touch with coaches, teammates, friends and family through Facebook, Twitter and Skype.
Waldvogel also said the local community members have all been very welcoming and even offer home-cooked meals to help with the transition.
While he is “having a blast” in Germany, the outlook for his future is still up in the air.
“I have a job back home if I want to do that or maybe play another year here,” Waldvogel said. “I’m not going to cross that bridge until I get there.”
Kristopher Jobe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.