Stiglitz '13 Loves Soccer's Physical Play

by Scott Morrison '14

September 13, 2012

Soccer is not the most popular sport in the United States.  Many Americans do not view soccer as a tough contact sport, and prefer more ‘manly’ sports such as football. Senior Center Back Joe Stiglitz, however, revels in the physicality he experiences on the pitch with the Wabash soccer team.

Stiglitz is originally from Highland, IN, which is otherwise known as “the Region.”  He picked up soccer at age 7 and never abandoned the sport, playing through elementary and high school until he found himself at Wabash.  “Like a lot of kids, it’s one of the first sports you play,” Stiglitz said.  “Obviously some people don’t stay with it; they move on to other sports, but I stayed with it.  I got into baseball and basketball and track and field, but soccer has been the one sport that I excelled in early and stayed with.”

Joe Stiglitz in early season action.Despite the allure of more popular American contact sports like football and even basketball, Stiglitz found all of the contact he needed on the soccer field.  “Soccer is definitely a contact sport no matter what some people think or say,” Stiglitz said.  “I like playing defense because you do get a lot more contact. I get to hit people as much as anyone else in any other sports. I think it is more fun being able to hit people.”

Stiglitz attributes much of his toughness and attitude about soccer to growing up in “the Region.”  He believes Northwest Indiana instilled early on his tough mindset.  “I definitely think being from ‘the Region’ affects who I am on the field,” Stiglitz said.  “People call it swag or attitude, but it is a mindset that comes from being called a Region Rat and dirty and hotheaded or physical. Sometimes in practice my own teammates get on me because I am as physical with them as I am with someone else.”

For dishing out a good deal of pain, Stiglitz surprisingly never suffered a major injury on the field throughout his career.  That changed a couple weeks ago when the Little Giants faced St. Joseph’s College.  Stiglitz jumped into the air and won a header, but an opponent came in late and connected an errant header attempt with Stiglitz’s face, breaking his nose.  “It [the injury] has been unfortunate,” Stiglitz said.  “When I went into the doctor with the broken nose they asked if I got kicked in the face. They were shocked that I had broken my nose in soccer. That stereotype that soccer isn’t physical and that guys just flop all the time is not true.”

The trainers gave Stiglitz a facemask last Friday that he will most likely play with the rest of the season.  Stiglitz is still trying to get used to the feel of the mask and how it affects his breathing and comfort level during games.  “I got it last Friday and then we had games right away, so I really didn’t get to practice and get used to it,” Stiglitz said.  “It is challenging.  It isn’t as much the sight [that affects me] as much as I’m not used to something so close and tight to my face.”

The injury has more importantly altered Stiglitz’s aggressive mentality on the field.  “It is a setback mentally more than physically,” Stiglitz said.  “Since the break is cosmetic, it is all mental.  Going into a tackle now or going up for a header, it is in my subconscious to try to avoid contact. The hardest part is going into a tackle or up for a header and doing it with confidence like I used to and not worrying about the contact.”

Wabash is off to a 2-4 start this season, but the team has not suffered a shortage of defense.  The entire team has begun to share Stiglitz’s defensive mindset, and they expect more wins will come.  “We have four defenders, but it all starts with all 11 people on the pitch,” Stiglitz said.  “If we just classify ourselves as the defense and everyone else as the offense, things become dysfunctional, but the best thing we have done so far is that everyone on the field is defending.”




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