SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Former men's soccer defender Cody Shields graduated from Sacramento State last spring and spent his summer training overseas with the U23 team of Bundesliga Second Division professional club VfL Osnabrück in Osnabrück, Germany.
After making it through the tough tryout process, Shields has made the roster and begins his first professional season this weekend.
He joined us for a Q&A to discuss his transistion from Div. I soccer to the professional ranks and what it is like to play for fellow former Hornet, Joe Enochs.
Q: First, what was it like getting over to Germany?
Shields: Arriving in Germany was an interesting experience. I had to wait a few weeks to start training with a team called BV Cloppenburg. Luckily I had a friend (former Hornet Adam Bettencourt) in Germany and was able to stay at his apartment and get a few practices in with SF Siegen, who he was training with at the time. The language barrier was not as difficult as some may imagine; most Germans I have met speak English quite well.
Q: What is the team like?
Shields: The team is a great bunch of guys. Everyone is under 23 years old and trainings are held in a great environment. Everyone is very close and they took me in with open arms. It is a relatively international team with players from South Africa, Turkey and myself being from USA.
Q: What style of soccer do they play? How does it compare to Div. I?
Shields: The style of soccer is much less direct than Div. I. Technical work and efficiency is essential whereas a lot of players can get by with physical abilities alone in Div. 1. Germans play some of the best soccer in the world and it definitely shows, from the youth programs on up the professionals.
Q: What is it like playing for former Hornet Joe Enochs?
Shields: Joe Enochs has shown nothing but great hospitality and been a tremendous help. He is quite famous in Osnabrück but remains very humble and friendly. On the field he holds me to a high standard and demands the most out of all of his players including myself. Joe emphasizes soccer development individually and it transforms into the team play. It is also beneficial with him speaking English to me when it is necessary. (Here is a link for a feature ESPN wrote on Enochs in 2011.)
Q: Take us through the details of your signing process.
Shields: Joe invited me back to preseason and told me if I played well enough, I would have a spot on the team. We had a long preseason with many practice games and I was able to do well enough for Joe to give me a chance this year.
Q: When does your season start?
Shields: My first game will be this weekend Sunday August 19th. I have played in several practice games and have had my moments of good play but it also showed me how much work I have left.
Q: How are the team facilities?
Shields: The facilities are unbelievable. The grass is always perfect. The professional stadium is beautiful and the environment at the matches is spectacular. (Scroll down and click on the photo for a photo gallery of VfL's Osnatel Stadion.)
Q: Have you had any time to travel and just be a tourist?
Shields: No, I really haven't had much time to do so. I have been to Köln and Hamburg, both of which are great cities. But other than that I have spent most of my time playing soccer.