Standing at 6’4 and with an accent, student athlete Franz Winkler is hard to forget. A native of Wittenberg, Germany, he set his sights on school in America. Soon
he found his way to the Midwest and a scholarship to play basketball at Clarke.
“It’s really different. Everyone in Germany minds their own business,” he said. “At Clarke, everyone is open-minded and really wants to get to know you.”
From Dubuque to Deutschland, Franz’s family watches him live thanks to Clarke’s basketball webcast. The 7-hour time difference doesn’t stop his dad Tobias, who cheers him on
into the wee hours of the morning. He may only know a few words of English, but Franz’s buzzer beaters come in crystal clear.
“Clarke has professional cameras and a broadcast announcer for the games. Not a lot of schools have that,” Franz said.
While dad supports him from afar, Franz has plenty of support on campus.
“Coaches check our grades every week,” Franz said. “Academic standards are high, but it helps that with small class sizes my professors know me.”
Few things say ‘friend’ like wearing fancy leather pants to make a person feel at home. Franz said friends have been easy to come by, especially with the strong camaraderie between all Crusader athletics.
“Everyone goes to each other’s games,” he said. “I try and go to every sporting event – baseball, volleyball, soccer – and they come to mine.”
Those friendships have been invaluable for his sightseeing tour of America. That includes a Packer game in Green Bay and a 5-day road trip to LA. There’s also the fun had in Dubuque, including
snowboarding at Chestnut Mountain and Jet Ski’s on the Mississippi. Franz has been a busy guy.
But beyond good times and new friends, the biggest tell he’s fitting in might be the easiest to miss.
“I think in English now,” he said. “And I’m starting to say words differently.”