Adapting to Change: Glenn Vass's Freshman Campaign

By, Brandon Rebboah

SANTA CLARA, Calif.-
For most freshmen student-athletes, the adjustment to college can be an acclimation process. Especially when joining a new team to the rigors of academics. For men's soccer freshman Glenn Vass, adjustment is nothing new. He has lived in three countries, speaks three languages and has dealt with the hardships of serious injury. Vass has been able to take the adjustment period in stride and is already a productive member of the Bronco men's soccer program. 

Vass's first acclimation process came when his family moved from Northampton, England to Germany. In Germany, Vass began to excel in soccer. He played for the youth academy of, internationally-recognized, Bayern Munich soccer club. His soccer career was brought to a halt when Vass broke his leg in 2005. He missed two seasons and began to cope with the idea that he may never play soccer again.

"I broke my leg, by my calf and shin," said Vass. "I had two surgeries. It took me two years to get back to soccer. In the meantime, I played tennis because the surface didn't bother me as much. After a while I started playing on a regional men's team club [VFB Hallbergmoos] and actually decided that I could give it another shot because I've always loved the game. There was a point [where I was questioning if I could play again] because I lost a lot of fitness and two important years in the development of a player."

The freshman's next soccer opportunity was linked with his father's transfer to the United States. His father works for a Silicon Valley based company and was constantly traveling from Germany to California. Vass's father had an opportunity to work in the Silicon Valley, which would cut down his traveling. Coincidently, two Bay Area colleges were recruiting Vass.

"We came over here on holiday," said Vass. "[My father] waited until I graduated to move from Germany. I looked at two schools, Santa Clara and Berkeley and I decided on Santa Clara because I liked the smaller aspect of the university: I like the people - they are very welcoming."

Being recruited by a school was something unheard of in Europe with no comparable institution to the NCAA.

"In Europe you don't have a university with a sport team," said Vass. "They don't have universities that compete against other universities in every sport. I like this idea of combining your school with your passion for the game of soccer. You have this competition between the schools. That is something I really like. In Europe you don't really have teams competing against each other at a high level. There you have more of the club teams."

Now, Vass is now in his freshman season at Santa Clara and still adjusting to the places and the U.S. style of soccer.

"The style of play [in the United States] is more focused on the aspect of fitness and being athletic while in Europe you find more technical players," said Vass. "I'm adjusting by passing the ball faster and building up my fitness. I'm adapting to the speed of the game because I find this style to be a little faster, but it's still the same game; you still have to score goals. I'm trying to combine my technical ability with the speed of the game."

Vass is amidst his freshman campaign on the pitch and soaking up information from his coaches and veteran teammates. He credits all of his teammates for making his transition to a new style of soccer. He notes that every player has abilities and characteristics he tries to extract.

"Every player brings something special," said the freshman. "I admire Erik Hurtado's speed, Brandon Zimmerman's capability of leading a team and Murph's [Murphy Campbell] ability to be a positive influence."

On Sept. 9, his hard work finally paid off. Vass scored the first goal in Santa Clara's dominating win over Nebraska-Omaha. The goal tied all of his hard work and adjustment into a beautiful goal.

"It was a ball from the right-hand side from Connor [Mitchell]," said Vass. "I got a nice touch on the ball. It was a great feeling."

Vass has continued to learn and is currently second on the team in goals (3), two of which have been game-winners.