BOONVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – From Berlin to Boonville, foreign exchange student Friedrich Berkowsky is kicking it in a new place.
Berkowsky is the newest addition at Boonville High School this year. He came to the states through an exchange student program with the Elikofer family.
Berkowsky is the third student the family has hosted. It’s an experience Toby Elikofer has fallen in love with.
“I would say the coolest part is just learning the culture and just watching their eyes open and their jaws hit the floor when they experience something here in the states that they don’t get back home,” Elikofer said.
That experience has certainly came true for Berkowsky. A soccer player back home in Germany, Berkowsky has always wanted to play American football, but there were no teams available in Berlin. So when he got the opportunity in America, he leapt at the chance.
“When we got to the school he asked the guidance counselor, he goes, ‘Do you think I can play football?’ We came and met with coach Ward, and the rest is history,” Elikofer said.
“I actually tried to encourage him to go to soccer,” said head coach Darin Ward. “I thought it would be a good fit for him in our soccer program. But he was persistent, and wanted to try something new.”
Berkowsky originally wanted to go out for wide receiver, but with his soccer background, he found a natural role as kicker. With no experience in the sport, it was a strange adjustment for the German senior, but he’s getting more and more comfortable with the game.
“First of all, the plays were completely new for me, and I had to learn everything from the beginning,” Berkowsky said. “So, that was hard at the beginning, but I think now I’m good.”
Berkowsky is now the starting kicker for the Pioneers, and has flourished in his new role. He’s already kicking touchbacks for Boonville, and is 8 for 10 on extra points this year.
“It’s crazy. It’s an honor for me to play for varsity football, and the team spirit is great,” Berkowsky said. “Everybody is open minded I think.”
“He loves football,” Elikofer said. “That’s all he talks about. When we have a game, he’s ready for the game. He’s ready for practice. We watch football at the house still. Other than that, he’s just turned into a typical American teenager.”
Berkowsky has been adopted into the Boonville football family. And while he’s only here for a year, he’s made gridiron memories that will last a lifetime.
“I think my favorite part is the football team,” Berkowsky said. “The football experience. I’ve never played before in front of such a huge crowd. That’s great.”