Hometown/first soccer experience: I grew up in Bielefeld, Germany where I started playing on my second day of school. A classmate took me to practice at his club in our neighborhood. I played for the club for 14 years until I left town for college.
Family: I live with my wife Jen in Madison.
Years of Coaching: In the club I played, I started coaching a U15 when I was 20 years old. I’ve been coaching ever since.
Favorite Team and why?: Arminia Bielefeld. Why? Support your local hero. Nothing has taught as much as the game and those rainy days and crystal clear nights. Bielefeld is a team that always loses more than it wins. Arminia has never won a title and yet, it created so many memories and moments of true bliss. It taught me to be graceful in moments of success and to lose with dignity. When I’m in the stadium, always with my dad, I’m home.
Favorite Player and why: I played mostly defense and early on I tried to model my game after Paulo Maldini, but when I was 16 years old I saw Zidane play and it changed the way I looked at the game. I also admire Clarence Seedorf, Christian Eriksen and a lot of players you probably never heard of: Rüdiger Kauf, Fatmir Vata, Matthias Hain. Different players that found different ways to play the game their way.
Coaching Education: D-Licence
Why did you start coaching? I was never talented enough to play instinctively or to take many risks. I became a hard worker that had to understand the game to help his team. Which gave me joy in itself, being part of a group. Which ultimately set me up to be a coach. Someone who finds pleasure in thinking about the game to create a meaningful experience – together.
Coaching Role Models/Mentors: My first coach had a huge impact on me. He coached me from age 6 to 10. I always wanted to play well for him and always felt safe. Even when he was angry. Among professional coaches I admire everyone who is creative, can lead authentically by example and successfully delegate expertise. Coaches like Jürgen Klopp or Mauricio Pochettino come to my mind.
Favorite Coaching Memory: So many. Most of them circle around players surprising themselves with what they are capable of. To choose one: U15. We are playing the leader of the table, who will eventually finish the year undefeated. We have a good year but it’s not our day and we are down 0-5 at halftime. In the locker room we discuss a few things and why we play the game. Something clicks. We win the second half and the game ends 1-5. After the game the players had a sparkle in their eyes that you only earn when you leave it all on the field.
What are your hobbies outside of soccer? I watch movies and write about movies as a freelance journalist and about other things. Short stories and essays mostly.
Favorite Book: Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch is a classic for a reason. Outside of soccer I like the essays of David Foster Wallance and everything from Jennifer Egan.
Did you play other sports growing up? I played Basketball for a year, but I was too small and nothing could ever compete with soccer to be honest.
What is something people may never guess about you?: My mom and I used to save up and have gone to every Summer Olympics since Sydney 2000. Our last trip was to Rio in 2016. We always visited different sport events, but rarely any soccer.