German exchange student likes the United States–and its girls
Besides a player speaking in a German accent, there’s something else different about boys soccer games at Carson High this season. There always seems to be an alarming number of giggly teenage girls in the stands who are actually paying attention to the game, especially in the direction of where that Deustschlander echo comes from.
“I’ve been giving the guys a hard time because there never have been any girls at our games (in the past),” coach Jim Nealis said. “Then all of sudden, Alex is here and there are girls everywhere.”
Alex, of course, is Alex Wolhforth, a German exchange student who is spending his junior year of high school at Carson High. Wolhforth is the starting left back for the Senators, who take their undefeated record into today’s game at home against North Valleys at 11 a.m.
Now back to the good stuff.
Alex comes from a small town of about 6,000 people outside of Frankfurt, a bustling city located in the Rhine River valley, where dozens of medieval castles are all within a day’s drive. Alex doesn’t have any brothers or sisters and, like any typical 16-year-old in the same situation, doesn’t miss his parents, who are more than 5,000 miles away. Fortunately, his mother, an insurance agent, and his father, a security worker at the Frankfurt Airport, talk to Alex at least once a week. His host family in Carson is the Updegroves, armed with four kids, who are now his makeshift siblings until June.
“It’s fun, it never gets boring,” Wolhforth said. “They’re always around you. They have an indoor swimming pool.”
Alex has been learning English since the fifth grade, as all German students are required to do. He also speaks a bit of French. Bet the Carson girls didn’t know that? His stock just went up.
“The girls are much better over here. They are more open and you can speak to them. Everyone has been really nice. I like it here.”
How couldn’t he? Alex says girls will stop him in the halls or in class and ask him how to say this word or that word in German. When asked what words, Alex smiles and says he can’t think of any particular one.
“Sometimes, love,” he blushes.
It seems as if he’s available, too. When asked about any baggage left behind in Germany, Alex wouldn’t confirm or deny if had any. He certainly didn’t leave his soccer ability back home, though. With a tall and lean frame, Alex has the agility to be a soccer player. It’s still undetermined in the few games I’ve seen how good he is in the air. Maybe heading the ball would mess up his stylish do, which is spiky and Americanized enough for an MTV commercial.
“You can tell he’s played in pick up games and that’s why the states are so far behind in soccer because we don’t have pick up games,” Nealis said. “Parents here have everything so structured. They bring the kids to the field and tell them they have to play from 5:30 to 6, whereas in every other country the kids are out in the streets playing. And you can tell that on the field. He just has natural instincts and that’s something we’re trying to teach our guys. The kids over there play because they love it.”
Alex thinks the level of German soccer is much higher, although I had to remind him the Germans only beat the United States 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
“There is no football or baseball. It’s just soccer. But I think it (school) is harder in Germany. You get a lot of help here from teachers.”
Good recovery, Alex as you were probably going to find calculus on your schedule next semester. In Germany, students are graded from 1-6, instead of A-F. They stay in one classroom from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day, and teachers come in and out of in those five hours and teach different subjects.
“Germany’s boring. You only have one class and are out by 1 and then there’s nothing to do.”
Except play soccer and drink beer, of course. Germany’s drinking age is 16 and its legal driving age is 18. And just like in the U.S., every person in his high school of 900 students has a cell phone. Yep, sounds like Alex has this place figured out. He even plans on dropping a quarter in a slot machine before too long.
“I had no idea he was coming,” Nealis said. “He’s such a good kid. At first, we had the guys who were on the team before. So with the guys coming up from the JV and Alex who’s new at school, they were kind of almost alienated. Right now, it’s like you would never know. I’m just happy to have him here.”
So are the girls.
Jeremy Evans is a Nevada Appeal sports writer.