Gene's Blog: How do you say "Wow!" in German?
June 03, 2012
Fritz Waldvogel's German Football League debut was a hit as he sored five touchdowns. (Schwabisch Hall photo)
Fritz Waldvogel received his St. Thomas diploma on May 19, and shortly thereafter took a plane trip to Europe for a new chapter in his football career.
The Tommie All-America WR-KR accomplished something unprecedented on Saturday in his debut professional game in the 16-team German Football League.
Playing for the defending league champion Schwabisch Hall Unicorns, Waldvogel scored five touchdowns to lead a 57-28 victory over the Saarland Hurricanes. He reached the end zone with an 18-yard scoring run, a 40-yard punt return, and TD receptions of 4, 40 and 13 yards, and also added a two-point conversion.
Schwabisch Hall improved to 4-2 on the season after a 13-0, championship season in 2011.
“It's awesome out here, the people are amazing,” Waldvogel said. “I‘ve only been here for 10 days but I am adjusting quickly. It was great to get back out on the field. The obvious biggest difference is the language barrier, but most of my teammates speak English.”
The Unicorns' QB, Jake Spitzlberger, was a Division II standout at Nebraska-Kearney who completed his eligibility last fall.
Waldvogel, a two-time MIAC Player of the Year, started a school-record 50 games at UST and led the Tommies to a 43-7 overall record and two MIAC championships. He closed with 46 touchdowns (10 on kick returns), 300 receptions, 4,289 receiving yards and 7,433 all-purpose yards.
Waldvogel has a full-time job waiting for him in the Twin Cities when the German season ends in October.
Which one of the Tommies’ 22 varsity athletics teams was the most improved in 2011-12? That depends how you measure it –- with victories, win percentage, places gained in conference, or national impact.
In terms of wins-losses, Tommie baseball stepped up huge in its third-place NCAA finish. Coach Chris Olean’s team improved from 28 wins in 2011 (28-18) to 41 wins in 2012 (41-10) for plus 13.
Women’s basketball had a plus 11 for second best jump in wins. Coach Ruth Sinn’s team had UST’s best update in winning percentage in its run to a third-place national finish. The Toms finished 20-7 in 2010-11 (.741) and improved to 31-2 last winter (.939), a gain of .198 in win percentage. That edged baseball’s .180 gain.
In terms of conference places, men’s outdoor track improved the most, five spots, as it took first in 2012 after an injury-plagued 2011 season produced a sixth-place showing. In fact, UST’s five-spot climb was the best one-season improvement among all 152 national college men’s or women’s track and field outdoor teams champions.
In terms of surprises, men’s golf would get the nod. Fueled by two freshmen standouts, Coach Scott Proshek’s team won the school’s first MIAC men’s golf championship since 1981 and made St. Thomas’ first appearance at the national meet, where it placed 16th.
There were two other unusual feats by St. Thomas teams. First, both baseball and women’s basketball beat teams that were ranked No. 1 in the country. Second, four UST teams that were unranked in the preseason national polls finished in the top 20 in the country – baseball, women’s basketball, men’s golf and men’s hockey.
Missing Dog Collared
Tommie freshman catcher Jackson Brett’s family dog, Charlie, went missing last week from his suburban Kansas City home. When the black labradoodle was last seen, he wasn't wearing a tag and had just one identifying element -– a St. Thomas collar.
Jackson’s dad took to Twitter to help find the lost dog. Oh, yes, it helps that Jackson’s father, George Brett, is a Hall of Fame major-league baseball player, who already has 11,000 followers since starting a Twitter account just one month ago. According to a USA Today story, George started a hash tag #findcharlie to attempt to get his tweet more views. He also tweeted at the accounts of Sports Illustrated's Peter King and ESPN's Buster Olney.
By early the next morning, Charlie was safe at home. Make that Home Tweet Home.