Editor’s note: The following is the first of a three-part series featuring international college football players from Germany, Japan and Poland who currently play for College of the Canyons. Today, The Signal’s Dan Lovi takes a look at Philip and Kilian, who are from Germany.
When you think of the sports associated with Germany, football is probably near the bottom of the list.
Soccer is king for most countries outside of the United States, but for two German College of the Canyons players, football is life.
Philip Weinzierl, who was born and raised in Regensburg, Germany, played soccer growing up like most other German kids.
Currently standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 324 pounds, Weinzierl had the physique of a football player since he was young and once he got his first taste of the sport, he never turned back.
“I was always overweight and stuff, so I played soccer just because everybody played and I wanted to play soccer with my friends,” Weinzierl said. “One day I watched TV, and a championship for a German league was on and it clicked. I wanted to start playing football. I googled football in my hometown and found a club and just started playing.”
In Deutschland there is one professional football league aptly named the German Football League (GFL), but most players belong to local club teams. Weinzierl played for the Kirchdorf Wildcats, a semi-professional team in the GFL’s second division (at the time) for three years, before moving to the Santa Clarita Valley to play for COC.
His current teammate and fellow German Kilian Zierer has a similar background. Zierer, who hails from Hohenkirchen-Siegertsbrun, a small municipality with a population of less than 10 thousand, was originally a soccer player. He got into football after watching a New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers game while on vacation.
“I came to America three years ago to Miami for vacation and it was the first time I really saw, I really knew what football was. Before that I was just playing soccer,” Zierer said. “When I came back to Germany I started playing football at 16.”
The 6-foot-7 offensive lineman is easily the tallest player on the Cougars’ roster and was utilized as a tight end and receiver when he played for the under-19 team for the Munich Cowboys in the GFL. After two seasons with Munich, Zierer played one season with the Allgau Comets before moving to the U.S. to play for Canyons.
“COC was the first college that wanted me,” Zierer said. “It’s California, it’s football and one of the best programs in the country, so there was no discussion. I love it here.”
It helps that Zierer has another one of his native countrymen starting on the offensive line alongside him.
“We talk a lot in German. It’s fun because nobody understands what we’re saying so we can say whatever we want on the line,” Zierer said with a smile. “If (Weinzierl) plays right guard and I’m playing right tackle, we say who we’re going to block in German and they have no idea what we’re saying.”
“We speak German in the locker room and the rest of the team gets annoyed,” Weinzierl said laughing. “They say ‘start speaking English.’ It’s so funny.”