by Wyatt Bose ’23
Sensational goalkeeper Manuel Neuer once said, “I do not like the red carpet; I prefer the green pitch.” Like Neuer, Thiele is not only skilled on the pitch but in the classroom, and he carries himself like a professional.
Thiele said, “Being a Bayern and Germany fan since I was born, [Neuer] was someone I watched a lot of growing up. Having also played on the field until age 14, Neuer’s play style of being comfortable on the ball and playing as part of the team has been something I have tried to model my game after since I made the transition to being a goalkeeper. Along with his presence and character on the field, he is someone that I always look-up to.”
Captivated at a young age, Thiele was obsessed with soccer before he could even walk. With the cultural influence of German parents, soccer was inescapable whether he liked it or not.
Thiele said, “With soccer being a large part of culture in Germany, there were soccer balls in the backyard when I was learning to walk and trying to kick them became part of me learning how to walk.”
Thiele’s father, having played the sport throughout his youth, opened the door to competitive soccer for Nic when he registered his 4-year-old for a rec league. Sometimes, at a young age, you can just tell when someone is unique, and Nic was one of those players. As special as he was in the field from ages four through fourteen, Nic began to experiment with goalkeeping.
You see, as the recruits at UCSD well know, Division I goalkeepers do not just grow on southern California palm trees. Around 14 years-old, Thiele realized his instincts were unlike any other and as he practiced, he began to catch some eyes. Eventually, he played-up in age and pursued goalkeeping at the club level with De Anza Force. From eighth through eleventh grade, Thiele practiced year-round with his Force team, spending long hours after school into the night.
When asked about why he chose Force over Bellarmine, Thiele said, “Throughout high school, I decided to play club soccer because I thought it would be the best for my development. The competitive environment that comes with playing for an academy like Force gives you second thoughts about being away from the group for a couple months.”
Considering the club’s rigorous environment and high demand, Thiele understood he would not be able to balance club soccer, school soccer, and academics all at once. An outstanding student-athlete who values grades just as much, if not more than soccer, Thiele said, “I just thought it was too big of a risk [to leave Force for Bellarmine soccer], especially not knowing the level of the high school team when I started out at Bellarmine.”
However, some great news for the Bells, when asked if he plans to play for Bellarmine his senior year, Thiele told me:
“I am planning on playing Bellarmine soccer, especially since I am committed and in a good spot in terms of my development as a player. It should be a really fun season considering the amount of talent we will have on the roster, and I have high expectations for our future. Our future is bright at Bellarmine.”
Thiele’s future looks just as bright, as he will be headed down to sunny San Diego in Fall of 2023 to pursue a lifelong dream of playing soccer at the collegiate level. Rather than electing to go to a prestigious program, Thiele was attracted by UCSD’s latent qualities, one of which being the program’s youth, as only two years ago did they join NCAA Division I.
Thiele said, “The program has a really promising future, particularly in the next couple of years. In making my decision to commit there, I wanted to join an upcoming program which I will have the opportunity to make an impact on and play at early on. I am excited to have the opportunity to play college soccer and hopefully am able to contribute to the program and do some great things there.”
When asked if he has desires to play beyond college, Thiele said, very humbly, “Playing soccer for a career after college is something I have dreamed of since I was a kid, however my primary focus is to get a good education while playing soccer at a high level. In that sense, if the opportunity to play professional soccer after college were to be a possibility, I would try my best to create a career out of that, however it is not an end-all be-all type of thing.”
Ultimately, someone who has perfected his craft and now seen the results, Nic Thiele, a good friend of mine, I salute you and wish you all the best in whatever your future beholds at UCSD and beyond!