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Friday, December 4, 2020

Experiences in Germany eased transition to Western for Georg Cholewa

Background of the senior’s past in playing soccer and how it translated to the collegiate level in the states.

(Credit: Jeff Evans) Midfielder Georg Cholewa (#10) strikes the ball towards the opposing team’s net. Cholewa has scored a total of 14 goals while serving 17 assists in his Western career.

By Aidan Gaffney

About 19 years ago, Western men’s soccer player Georg Cholewa was taken to a soccer field by his father in Leipzig, Germany. 

“I grew up in a lovely family who were pretty crazy about sports,” Cholewa said. “My grandpa was a water polo player, my aunt was a gymnast for the German national team and my dad was a professional soccer player back in the day. So, sports pretty much dominated my life.” 

Eventually, soccer became his priority. He began playing for FC Erzgebirge Aue’s youth academy around the age of 5, where he began to develop his craft. 

“After playing about 10 years for this club, I got nominated to go to a sports-oriented school where the best athletes in the region go to play all kinds of sports,” Cholewa said. 

German schools do not typically offer interscholastic sporting events. Instead, they provide opportunities for elite athletes to attend a sports school, or “Sportschule.” This allows certain athletes to put more emphasis on their specific sport while still receiving an education, according to The German Way. Cholewa attended Sportgymnasium Chemnitz. 

As Cholewa’s game matured, he made the jump to an adult league, playing for Union Sandersdorf, an amateur team that plays in the fifth tier of the German soccer league system. Around this time, he completed high school and then attended Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany before transferring to Western after one year. 

Growing up, Cholewa fell in love with traveling as his parents took him all over Europe. One day while Cholewa was at a bar with his fellow teammates, one of them mentioned that he was friends with someone who worked for an international player recruiting service. That recruiting service was Wagner and Woolf, the same service that helped bring fellow teammate Drew Farnsworth to Western.

“I would like to travel and be able to study in the States, so I basically just went through the process,” Cholewa said.

Western men’s soccer assistant coach Kyle Segebart is familiar with the process of recruiting international players. 

“With Georg, we were working with the same recruiting service, but the biggest difference between Georg and Drew was Georg played in Germany for a club that we recognized, and had worked with players that had played at that level — not from the same area, but the same level nationally within Germany,” Segebart said.

“I knew, and I know [Head Coach Greg Brisbon] felt the same way: Georg had the ability to translate that to Division II men’s soccer, and he would be a very important piece to our team.”

As a 23-year-old, Cholewa brings experience and certain characteristics that make him stand out from his teammates. 

“We knew from a maturity standpoint that he was going to be at a position that could make an instant impact within our team,” Segebart said. “George brought an intensity, bravado and some confidence to the midfield that we felt like we didn’t have before he arrived.”

Lukas Schlesinger, Cholewa’s former teammate in Germany, lived with Cholewa for three years and knows firsthand the value of having him as a teammate. 

“I always have a smile on my face when I see him and will always have good conversations with Georg about other things, but also about football, of course,” Schlesinger said. “You can always rely on him, even off the field. He sticks to agreements and is not an egoist.”

With the midfielder coming into his senior year fresh off last season’s Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championship, there is plenty to anticipate. Last year, Cholewa was unanimously picked to the second-team of the United Soccer Coaches All-West Region and D2CCA All-West Region, as well as receiving first-team GNAC All-Conference honors. 

Additionally, Cholewa was the first in Western’s history to be selected as United Soccer Coaches Player of the Week, which is awarded to players competing at the intercollegiate level for their on-field accomplishments.

Western advanced to the NCAA DII Championships for the second time in program history in 2019. They were defeated 5-0 by St. Mary’s in San Antonio, Texas, putting an end to their successful season.

“We have unfinished business with that team from Texas, and overall, with the nation. So yeah, I want to get my revenge,” Cholewa said. 

Cholewa plans to graduate with a major in business management and a minor in international business economics. With the season still up in the air due to COVID-19, Cholewa expects to return and use his extra year of eligibility regardless if play resumes in the spring. 

“We have a really good squad, even better than last year, so I think we can take it pretty far,” Cholewa said. “We’re finally practicing and getting much better, so I hope fans will be able to witness that in person soon. We’ll be sure to give you guys a show when the time comes.”

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