Defender moves from Germany to Austin, retains love of soccer

Rachel Greenspan

Frederik Belz, a defender for the men’s club soccer team, began his career across the world in a small German town.

Born in Germany, Belz, who goes by Franz, began playing soccer when he was just 3 years old. Belz grew up in Gaiberg, Germany, a small town of roughly 2,000 people. Fortunately, a sponsor in his town funded the cost of an artificial turf field. Belz often played soccer there with his friends and teammates as a young kid.

“It was very autonomous,” Belz said about having the freedom to play whenever he wanted. “Living in such a small town, it always felt safe being on the field at any and all hours of the day.”

When Belz was 7, his father took a position as a physics professor at UT, moving his family to the United States. But Belz’s soccer career didn’t end there. 

He continued to play and joined the NASA Red Wings, a local club team in Austin. The Red Wings qualified for the state tournament, the location of which alternating between Houston or San Marcos, all four of Belz’s high school years, including an exciting trip to regionals his sophomore year. Club soccer teams are usually quite expensive, but Belz said the program, unlike many, allowed athletes from lower financial brackets to play as well.

Belz said the biggest adjustment from German to American youth soccer was the game size.

“In Germany, we started playing 7v7 on a full-size field right off the bat,” Belz said. “In America, we played only 4v4 on a much smaller field in youth soccer leagues.”

Now playing for the men’s club soccer team, Belz said the team’s biggest challenge is staying motivated and in shape this season. He’s a key contributer to the team, which has reached the National Championship Round of 16 four times since 2000.

“I believe staying well-conditioned is the key to success,” Belz said. “But it can be difficult to motivate my teammates to do so.”

Last year, the team went undefeated in the regular season, but with a few tie games, it fell short of winning the conference. The program has high expectations for this season. It’s currently 2-3-0 in conference and aims to win Nationals.

Belz said he wants to continue working hard in hopes of qualifying for nationals while also balancing the substantial workload that comes with being a biological engineer and pre-med student.

“I hope to make a difference in the medical community by combining these two fields,” Belz said.

Catch Belz and the team in action at Regionals in San Antonio this weekend.