Business major Alexander Orywall joins friends in launching Tritons Football Club
Orywall, a sophomore majoring in business management, has made a habit of kicking off the weekend by gathering with friends, including Trey Roettering and Josh Heisserer, at 5 p.m. for friendly games of soccer – a sport for which they all share a great affinity.
It started as just a fun way to unwind from the stresses of the week, but at some point last semester, they decided to formalize their routine under the banner of the Tritons Football Club and, in addition to playing pickup games and fielding a team in intramurals, they started holding watch parties for some of the matches in the 2022 World Cup. By the end of the semester, they’d submitted paperwork to be recognized as an official student organization, and they received approval on Jan. 4.
The club’s formation is happening amid rising attention on the beautiful game in the Gateway City with MLS team St. Louis CITY SC set to launch its first season next week.
“We’ve been doing a lot of things,” said Orywall, who serves as the group’s president. “We play intramurals. We do pickup games. We’ve had a lot of things with St. Louis CITY. We went to the first game at the new stadium. We’re trying to show the best games of the week of the three major leagues in Europe. Once MLS season starts, we’ll hope to show those games as well. We just want to show people that soccer is a great sport.”
Orywall is a native of Leverkusen, Germany, and he’s been a devoted follower of the game for longer than he can remember. He started playing when he was about 3 and has never stopped.
“We played on Sundays and just had some fun kicking the ball around,” Orywall said. “Then I just continued playing. In Germany, when you’re in elementary school, everybody plays soccer on the playground. I also played for my local club team.”
Orywall first came to the United States as an exchange student for his junior year of high school in 2019.
While he was studying in Arizona, his mother, Angelika, a longtime employee of Bayer, learned she was getting transferred to St. Louis for a three-year stint leading the company’s general ledger accounting and reporting in the United States. So Orywall wound up joining his parents in the Midwest.
The family was still getting settled into their new home when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so Orywall completed his junior year at an online school. He then spent his senior year as a student at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, but his classes the first semester were all online and, even when they returned to in-person learning, there were so many restrictions, it made it impossible to integrate into the school community.
The one place where he did get to have interactions with his fellow students was while playing for the school’s soccer team.
Orywall was eager to move onto college and have the chance to build a network of friends. He chose UMSL because he wanted to stay somewhat near his parents, and he was impressed with the College of Business Administration’s home in Anheuser-Busch Hall, which opened in 2017.
But his first avenue into getting involved came from living at Oak Hall and attending events around campus, including playing intramural volleyball with friends from the residence hall.
He met Heisserer and another member of the Tritons Football Club in a public speaking class last year. They bonded over soccer and wound up playing intramural soccer together this fall.
“Alex is genuinely invested in adding to the campus experience,” Warren said. “He approached me in early fall about his desire to start this new organization in conjunction with the launch of STL CITY SC. I was happy to assist by being the advisor as I am eager for our UMSL students to participate and garner further excitement towards the addition of a new professional team in St. Louis, which is the original soccer capital.”
The club already has about 15 members, and Warren believes its quick growth is directly connected to Orywall’s ability to relate to others, make them feel welcome and create excitement around his ideas.
He had a blast joining other members at the Nov. 16 friendly between St. Louis CITY2 and Bayer 04 Leverkusen – his other hometown team – in what served as the grand opening for CITYPARK downtown.
He’s looking forward to more activities involving St. Louis CITY SC events as the inaugural season gets underway.
In the meantime, he and other club members have been getting together at the Nosh during the week or the Museum Room of the Provincial House on weekends to watch matches featuring premier European teams.
They’re working on organizing an upcoming FIFA 23 tournament.
They also have plans to begin competing – they hope with both men’s and women’s teams –with other university soccer clubs in the Kansas Missouri Soccer League, which is made up of clubs from schools in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas and Illinois.
Orywall, who is minoring in sport management, would love to pursue a career connected to the business of soccer. He was excited to attend last month’s announcement that UMSL will serve as the official higher education partner for St. Louis CITY SC and to learn about the internship and other learning opportunities for students being developed with the team.
But for now, he just wants to help more of his fellow students share in his enjoyment of the game.
“Truly, if you want to learn more about it or if you just like it and want to be part of it, you’re more than welcome to join,” he said. “We’re happy to have you there. No skill requirements or any knowledge requirements. We’re happy to tell you more about it. I don’t want to say that I know everything about the sport, but if you have questions, I could answer some of them at least. We’re just hoping to get more people interested in the sport because it is, I think, the best sport there is.”
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