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Tim Falkenheim plays a ball through the middle against Crescent Valley
October 09, 2013
DALLAS - After traveling halfway around the world, there are two constants for Dallas High senior Tim Falkenheim: school and football - or rather, soccer.
A little more than two months ago Falkenheim left Wolfenbuettel, Germany, to travel to the United States after being placed in Dallas through his foreign exchange student program.
"I looked Dallas up on the Internet before I left, it was like how I imagined the United States to look like," Falkenheim said.
Falkenheim was excited for his opportunity abroad, but even more so when he started playing soccer for the Dallas High boys this fall.
"I knew I'd play soccer somewhere while I was here - I was surprised to see how common it was within the high schools," he said.
In Germany, high schools don't have soccer programs; instead Falkenheim has played for the last 10 years on a club team, Braunschweiger Sport Club, the jersey of which he proudly sports during most practices.
Falkenheim was faced with two seemingly difficult transitions: one, moving to America and living in Dallas; the other on the field with the Dragons boys team.
"I miss not having my parents around, but other than that life here is pretty much the same except for a few things," Falkenheim said.
"The schedule is a lot different, especially going right from school to practice or a game, but there is less homework usually so that is nice."
Falkenheim has also taken up two American pastimes while in the area: eating at Taco Bell and target shooting.
"I don't even know if either of those things are allowed in Germany," Falkenheim joked.
On the field, it is much of the same story despite the skill difference between his new and old teammates.
"It's like if you're a decent basketball player in the U.S. and then go play in Europe, you'll probably do pretty well," Dallas coach Gabe Davis said. "He has the instincts you can't really teach or hope to learn in a few years."
"I felt very comfortable when I first started playing with the team," Falkenheim said. "Everyone was nice to me and that really helped with my move from Germany."
What would seemingly be a large gap in skill level between his club years in Germany and Class 5A soccer in the Mid-Willamette Conference, Falkenheim said it isn't really that much different.
"The only big difference here is that club teams in Germany all have 11 very skilled players. Here, there are probably five or six really skilled players per team," Falkenheim said. "I would say most of the guys here are better conditioned though.
This is probably due to the other big difference Falkenheim noted: "Here we practice a lot and play two games a week. In Germany, we practice two or three times a week and have games on Saturday."
Falkenheim has taken to his role as mostly a center defensive midfielder as opposed to the forward he generally played with his club team in Germany.
"We call him the ficus because he is like a tree in the middle," Davis said. "When he is aggressive he does a great job of winning the ball and is typically more physical than a lot of the players here."
It is still early, but Falkheim and Davis hope he can impart some of the things he has learned in Germany to help the young Dallas team.
"It's hard to tell if I am a leader yet," Falkenheim said. "I would like to start helping more with some of the things I have learned."
"Hopefully as the season progresses and he starts to mesh more with the guys he will take on a bigger role and leave some wisdom with our guys," Davis said.
With that said, Falkenheim is already learning some lessons from the Dallas boys.
"I've learned that winning isn't everything; even if we don't win though, all our guys try their best and play hard every match," Falkenheim said.
There are no lofty goals for Falkenheim this season, as he is enjoying just being out there with the team and making some American friends.
"I just want to support the team as much as possible and have fun - and score my first goal here in America," he said.
As for his future, Falkenheim hopes his experience on and off the field will lead to friendships he can keep in touch with when he heads back to Germany at the end of the school year.