For 33 years, the Ohio Wesleyan men’s soccer team has shared a relationship of friendship and fussball with the city of Baumholder, Germany. Every three years, the Bishops, led by coach Jay Martin, make the trip overseas to visit the citizens who have become their friends and play a little soccer.
2010 was no different, as Martin made his 11th trip to the city with his team. But after the cities had shared such a long relationship, he was prepared to take the friendship one step farther.
At the Baumholder city hall, Martin and the Bishops presented a proclamation from Delaware mayor Gary Milner to Baumholder mayor Peter Lang, asking for the two cities to become partners.
“It shows off our international friendship,” Martin said.
Martin said the relationship between the OWU team and the city has evolved over the years. It began in 1987, when OWU graduate Matt Byers went to Europe and ended up playing for Baumholder. Martin, who coached in Munich before coming to Ohio Wesleyan, also has close ties to the country. He has been bringing his team to Baumholder ever since Byers made a home there.
Soccer players stay with German families and learn about Baumholder’s history during their visit. They also travel to other parts of Germany and play soccer against professional teams. Martin said the whole city of Baumholder will come to watch the Bishops play soccer.
“Soccer’s important, but it’s not the most important thing we do over there,” Martin said.
Baumholder has a well-established relationship with the United States already—an American army base has been in the city since the 1950s. Twelve thousand army personnel live in the town and contribute to its social and economic status. And the Ohio Wesleyan team teaches a clinic for children of the soldiers when they visit.
Lang and members of his staff will visit Delaware in May, and Martin said Delaware’s mayor will visit Baumholder next year. And, of course, the men’s soccer team will continue to visit their sister city.