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From soccer player to coach

By Mark Schulman
Around the Campus
Assistant Editor
Jan Wachsmuth returned to UNCP last fall all the way from Germany to reunite with the men's soccer team.

He was a member of the 2003 UNCP record-winning soccer team that earned UNCP its first berth in the NCAA tournament and a 17-1-2 mark for the season.  Wachsmuth was a midfielder for the Braves then but now fills the position of men's soccer team assistant coach.

Jan Wachsmuth is an assistant coach for the Braves men’s soccer team. He was a midfielder for the record-setting 2003 team, which went to the NCAA Final Four.

Photo Contributed by Jan Wachsmuth
Jan Wachsmuth is an assistant coach for the Braves men’s soccer team. He was a midfielder for the record-setting 2003 team, which went to the NCAA Final Four.

Wachsmuth was in the foreign exchange program in 2003 then returned to Germany to finish his undergraduate degree at P.H. Ludwigsburg. In Germany, he studied physical education, mathematics and pedagogy.

The experience at UNCP was his motivation in returning to the States after head coach Mike Schaeffer offered him a job as assistant coach.

"I could've continued with school in Germany but I enjoyed my time at UNCP," Wachsmuth said. "There is a greater opportunity to teach here and [UNCP] has a good coaching staff."

Playing and coaching soccer is Wachsmuth's first love but he also likes being a mentor as a teacher. He instructs weight training, soccer and swimming classes this year at UNCP as a graduate assistant.                           

Opportunities that are abundant at UNCP are limited in Germany, according to Wachsmuth.

"I could not coach, teach and study on a professional level in Germany as I can here," Wachsmuth said.

Growing up in a town two hours from Munich, Germany, Wachsmuth, 28, played soccer since he was 5 years old where he honed his talents as a midfield player.

He loves to play the game but with four knee injuries in four years he was forced to the sideline. But with perseverance and dedication he rose from the disabled list to an able and successful coach.

He led his state team to the German Nationals in 2003 and won the championship.

After completing the German soccer season, he came to UNCP where the team blazed through the season and entered the NCAA tournament.  His success at UNCP was bittersweet, though, compared to the efforts of his German team.

"In Germany, soccer gets more credit and here it seems we are not recognized," Wachsmuth said. "It's not that I need the recognition but it would help UNCP to be recognized because of its good soccer team."

Wachsmuth explains that it seems American sports are more for entertainment purposes than the actual competition and it shows with spectacles such as glamorous halftime shows and expensive commercials.

"In Germany, if you go to a 90 minute soccer match, you know you will be there for 90 minutes," Wachsmuth said.

Nevertheless, Wachsmuth still grinds on improving UNCP's soccer team and strives to guide them to the NCAA tournament once again next fall. 

"This is a good team and we must keep up its reputation. We must continue recruiting players and build team spirit," Wachsmuth said.

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke The print edition of The Pine Needle
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Updated: Wednesday, March 29, 2006
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