By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Matthes ‘Matt’ Gerkens is a long way from his hometown in Northern Germany as he spends a semester out in little Stayton, Oregon attending Stayton High School.
But, it helps in the adjustment during the two-months he’s been in the United States, that his hometown is about the same size of the town he is in right now.
“It’s kind of like here,” describes Gerkens. “From the size, it’s the same. It’s like a typical German town. Small, small town.”
Back at home, Gerkens took part in club sports with Handball and soccer; over in Germany there’s no Varsity Sports as there are here in the States at schools, so when he came out for American Football this past August it was something new to him and adjusting to the game was an adventure to say the least.
“On the first day it was confusing because the whole team knows how it works and you are not,” said Gerkens. “And then when you begin to understand what you are doing, then it makes it really fun with the whole team together, it’s cool.”
For Eagles Head Coach Andy Campbell he described the initial couple of days of practice as a process, but once Matt got comfortable playing, the person who Matt is came out to the team.
“Matt brought a lot to us, he brought an enthusiasm, he brought character to us,” said Campbell. “He instantly fit in with everybody. It’s great because it forces you to kind of slow down and explains things a little bit because he doesn’t have much background to it. But it was an absolute blessing, he fit right in with the characters that we have on the team. It was awesome.”
Starting Quarterback Aidan Hill spoke to how awesome it was hanging out with Gerkens on and off the field. Learning about him and where Gerkens is from and about the German culture that we, here in the States, may not get to see regularly.
“It was pretty cool, I mean getting to know him. Getting to know where he is from, his culture. Just different things that he does. Different things that he celebrates, all those things are pretty cool to get to know about him,” started Hill.
“It’s good to know the person he was, it was a great experience to get as close as I did with him. I really love the kid, not just on the field, but outside of it. I was hanging out with him, it was a really cool experience to get to know who he was. It was fun.”
One of the things that Gerkens points out about the German culture compared to the American culture was the soda intake between the two nations.
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