By Aleksei Pavloff, Sports Editor
The Ohio Wesleyan men’s soccer team traveled to Germany this past summer to compete against local German clubs while also experiencing a culture different from the U.S.
This is not the first time the OWU soccer team has taken trips overseas. John A. Martin, the head men’s soccer coach, said the trip to Germany was his 13th trip overall while at OWU.
Over the years, the team has been to many places in Europe with the goal of playing good talent.
Twenty-six players went on the trip along with Martin, his wife and two assistant coaches. Martin said only four or five of his current players had been to Europe before.
Players on the team were able to fundraise for the trip and some had to pay out of pocket.
“[Americans] are behind when it comes to soccer,” Martin said, adding that he encourages his team to play up to any level and that an opportunity like this was a good way for the team to prepare for the upcoming season.
One major improvement was the team chemistry, which Martin said was one of his goals.
“They are more skilled and are more organized,” said senior Scott Harmanis who plays center back for the soccer team. “Soccer [in Germany] is a social event.”
The soccer team visited a small town in Germany called Baumholder. According to sistercities.org, Baumholder and Delaware, Ohio became sister cities in May 2011. But the two cities’ history goes back 20 years.
“Baumholder and Delaware have had a relationship for more than 20 years, thanks to the Ohio Wesleyan University men’s soccer team,” stated sistercities.org.
During the team’s visit, members of the team got to live with the citizen of Baumholder and stayed their for the majority of the trip. They also visited places like Trier, Heidelberg, Munich and Neuschwanstein. The trip was a mix of sightseeing and competition but Martin had a clear objective.
“My goals go far beyond the soccer field. It’s a cultural trip,” Martin said. “The relationship between our team and the people of Baumholder is very, very strong.”
The team played four German professional teams and also organized a clinic for the people of Baumholder. This experience gave the OWU men’s soccer team a feel of what it is like to play at a professional level, Martin said.
“This trip was probably the best trip we ever had,” Martin said. “The competition across the board was the best we have faced.”
The last two times the teams traveled to Germany, they won the NCAA National championship the following season. They went to Germany in 1997 and won the NCAA National Championship in 1998. The team went again in 2010 and won the championship in 2011.
Martin said the team this year is very young. Thirteen players of the team graduated in May and since then, OWU has recreuited eight freshmen who Martin said “are really good.”
“We are already better than where we were last year,” said Martin
Harmanis said he has high expectations for the team.
“We hope to win the NCAC,” said Harmanis.
This upcoming season will test the Bishops as the team’s schedule includes three top five teams that also made the NCAA tournament.
The OWU men’s team plays Calvin,who made the NCAA tournament last season, on Sept. 2.