Not every freshman has the ability or the opportunity to make an immediate impact at the college level.
Nikolaus Grotz of Colorado Mines is an exception.
In his first season with the Orediggers, he was impressive to say the least, scoring nine goals and dishing out eight assists en route to earning freshman of the year honors in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The midfielder out of Germany was also a second-team all-league pick and an all-region selection.
Grotz credits his success to the faith his coaches had in him and the help his teammates provided.
“It really helped me having the trust of my coaches,” Grotz said. “It was a new thing for me being in the United States for the first time. Therefore, I got a lot of support from my teammates, on and off the field, which made everything much easier.”
Grotz certainly made his performances look easy as he ranked fifth in the league in goals and points (26). Both were the best totals on the team as well.
He led the Orediggers and RMAC in assists as well. But his success hasn’t stopped him from continuing to work hard. He kept his skills sharp over the summer by playing club soccer back home and is eager to help the Orediggers challenge for the conference championship and berth in the NCAA tournament. Colorado Mines, which finished 12-7-1 overall last season, is the league favorite after winning the RMAC tourney in 2014.
“I spent the summer in Germany and played with my club team there,” Grotz said. “I tried to stay in good shape because I knew that the fitness level here is higher than it is in Germany.”
Grotz is back in the United States now and is ready to rise to the occasion once again. Having a year of experience at the college level is a big help, not to mention the experience of playing on a team that won the conference tournament.
“It was great winning the tournament at the end of last year because we had worked really hard for it,” Grotz said. “For me, it was special because we had a good team, a great spirit and winning at the end of the season brought us all even closer together.”
The bond of the Orediggers will be even tighter this year. And while much is expected of Mines after what it accomplished last season, Grotz said the only focus for he and his teammates is on taking it one game at a time.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to talk about our goals for the end of the season,” Grotz said. “We have to concentrate on the next game and try to make the best out of it. We will see where we will be at the end of the season. I just try to give my best every time I take the field.”