Nele Graner has gotten used to life as a college athlete in the U.S.
A native of Bonn, Germany, the sophomore goalkeeper heard of Ohio from one of her friends and decided to come overseas and give it a shot. The adjustment to a new location was a bit difficult for Graner during her first month abroad, but she felt that getting to know the team and other people right away made the transition easier for her.
Luckily for Graner, she was already a pretty fluent English speaker and has been learning the language since she was eight years old.
Graner’s membership at the Bonner Tennis und-Hockey Verein (BTHV) athletic club set her on the path that led her to Ohio. First as a co-coach and goalkeeper coach in 2014, and then eventually playing in 2015 and 2017, Graner’s ability to see the game from both ends has even further eased her transition. As a member of those ‘15 and ‘17 squads, she led her team to a first-place finish in the indoor Upper League Championship and a fourth-place finish in the First League Championship.
It wasn’t all just field hockey, however, Graner felt like she lived there at times because of how often she was in the building.
“(It was) literally my second home,“ she said about the club. “I spent more time there than in my real home.”
On top of her field hockey positions — both as a coach and as a player — she also worked in the offices and spent time hanging out with others in the facility. She was even able to make a trip back home last summer and spent more time in the BTHV as an administrative assistant.
“I just knew a lot of people there,” Graner said. “They were literally my second family.”
Even though Graner is the backup goalkeeper for the Bobcats this year, she’s had significantly more playing time compared to her freshman year. She’s excited to have an increased responsibility on the team and feels as if she has gotten used to the pressure that comes with being a goalkeeper.
“For the first games last year, my heart rate was really high,“ Graner said. “But now, it’s kind of normal.”
Sophia Boothby, the Bobcats’ starting goalkeeper, has been a mentor on the field for Graner and she enjoys working with her. They encourage each other during practice and from the sidelines Graner shouts words of encouragement toward the redshirt senior.
“We learn a lot together,” Graner said of Boothby, “It’s really cool to have her. She helps me a lot.”
After her time at Ohio is finished, Graner plans on pursuing a career in sports management in her home country. She is already looking for internships and is trying to connect with employers in Germany as well.
She knows that people will take notice of her participation in college athletics. She is part of the Sports Business Association at Ohio, which is another extracurricular that she can add to her resume. For now, Graner is looking forward to the rest of the 2019 season, which is looking to be a successful year for her and her teammates.