German exchange student makes impact on the field

Matthew Smith | Staff Writer

Junior Albert Wiestigstrauch returns a kickoff for the Comets against Princeton in the final regular season game.

Albert Wiesigstrauch has found a home away from home. 

Wiesigstrauch is a junior at Mason High School, but unlike most other students here, he is still getting used to life in America. Just months ago, Wiesigstrauch moved to Mason from Germany, leaving everything he was used to, including most of his family, behind. 

As a kid, Wiesigstrauch said he watched football with his father in Germany and felt a strong connection to the sport, eventually playing the game himself despite its lack of popularity. Now as a foreign exchange student in America, Wiesigstrauch felt naturally drawn the Comet football team, where he is making an impact, averaging 17.9 yards per return on kickoffs. 

Wiesigstrauch said that being apart of the football team has made his difficult transition much better than he expected, and his new teammates have given him invaluable help and advice that has made him more comfortable here.

“In the beginning it was very hard for me. I left my whole family, my friends, and my girlfriend in Germany,” Wiesigstrauch said. “When I met the football team though, everything became very good. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly to me, they helped me on the field and in school too. I’m thankful for them.”

Head football coach Brian Castner knows it’s a difficult transition for Wiesigstrauch in his life both on and off the field. Castner said that he, along with the other coaches and players have done everything in their power to help Wiesigstrauch get accustomed to his new situation.

“Everyone here has given him extra love and extra care,” Castner said. “One coach in particular has been Coach Beurket. He’s done an excellent job of making sure everything is going well for Albert and he is picking up on everything. With a great kid like him though, you don’t really have to worry much because he has fit in with our team since the beginning.”

The adjustments of living in America have been much smoother for Wiesigstrauch as a result of his football cramadarie, but not everything about football has been. Wiesigstrauch said that he has had to get used to differences, including increased rigour of football in America versus football in Germany.

“I played a couple years of football in Germany, but it is much different than (America),” Wiesigstrauch said. “We only practice two times a week in Germany, but here it is everyday. It is also much more serious and intense here in America.”

Despite the extreme challenges of being new to a foreign country, the team feels like Wiesigstrauch has handled everything perfectly. Castner said that Wiesigstrauch has been an ideal teammate and role model all season despite many obstacles. 

“He is someone that when you watch him not just on the field, but on the sideline too, you see how great of a teammate he is,” Castner said. “You’ll see him with a positive attitude, cheering on others, and picking his teammates up the entire game. He always brings a lot of energy to our team.”

Being a great teammate is praised by coach like Brian Castner, but to Wiesigstrauch, that is something easy he can do everyday. Wiesigstrauch said that controlling what he can control has been a trait he’s learned to develop, and it’s made his life in America and on the football team much easier. 

“Whenever we practice all I can do is try my best and help the team in anyway I can,” Wiesigstrauch said. “When I’m on the sideline for games I try to be loud and push my teammates. All I want is for our team to win.”

Keeping an overall positive attitude is never a bad idea, and for Wiesigstrauch it paid off big time. When finally given his first big opportunity to contribute for Mason in their game against Middletown, he rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown. Wiesigstrauch said always staying prepared helped push him towards his big-time performance.

“The week before the game Coach Beurket told me we would be rotating at running back, so I knew I had to be ready to play,” Wiesigstrauch said. “When I was given the opportunity to play and I played well, it felt amazing. I’m just glad I was able to help the team.”

Not only did Wiesigstrauch have an unforgettable performance, but he was able to do it in front of his family, who were only in town for a few days from Germany. Castner said that it makes Wiesigstrauch’s performance that much more special to be able to show off in front of family.

“Honestly, it’s a great story,” Castner said. “He has only been here a few months, but he has picked up on everything so quickly. He was given the chance to play a lot (against Middletown) and it’s just amazing that he was able to have his best game in front of his dad and brother. I know they were very proud of him.”

Photo by Mia Sweitzer.