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2018 Football Preview: Woodland Beavers

Alex Wakefield lived his first 16 years in Germany. Now living in Woodland, he has picked up American football and is one of the team’s top offensive linemen. Photo by Mike Schultz. Edited by Andi Schwartz.
Alex Wakefield lived his first 16 years in Germany. Now living in Woodland, he has picked up American football and is one of the team’s top offensive linemen. Photo by Mike Schultz. Edited by Andi Schwartz.

Alex Wakefield, who grew up in Germany, adapts to American life, football

WOODLAND — Alex Wakefield still calls it American football because where he was raised, that is what it was called.

The sport is not as important in Germany as it is here, but he did play the game for a bit before moving to America two years ago.

Clearly, then, he is a natural. Or he is quick to adapt. Probably a little of both.

He played junior varsity as a sophomore at Woodland, then made an impact last year as a varsity lineman.

“I don’t want to be cocky, but I feel I’m pretty good at it,” Wakefield said.

He is good at transitions, too.

After all, Wakefield has adapted to his new home, a new school, and a new community.

Today, his English is solid. Every once in a while, the German accent sounds, giving a listener a hint that he is not from the Northwest.

Senior Tyler Flanagan is one of the key returning players for the Woodland Beavers in 2018. Photo by Mike Schultz
Senior Tyler Flanagan is one of the key returning players for the Woodland Beavers in 2018. Photo by Mike Schultz

Yes, he took English classes in Germany. And his father is an American. But he mostly spoke German.

“It was pretty rough finding friends (because) I’m not really good with the language,” Wakefield said, recalling his first days in Woodland. “Sometimes it was hard to have easy conversations because they use slang.”

A good student in math, he said he struggled early at Woodland in his English class. He is proud to say he got an A in the subject in his last grading period.

A fast learner for sure.

He was late to the school year as a sophomore at Woodland, then went out for football. He played JV ball.

A year later, he was starting on varsity.

“I try to light people up. I try to put people on the ground,” Wakefield said. “I like to play nasty. Not dirty, but nasty. I want to make the defense hate being out there and put them on the ground. Make the defense hate to be out there.”

Junior Isaac Hall will likely be a big part of the Woodland offense this season. Photo by Mike Schultz
Junior Isaac Hall will likely be a big part of the Woodland offense this season. Photo by Mike Schultz

At 6-2, 230 pounds, Wakefield said it is his footwork that has led to his success in football. The first step while protecting a quarterback is key, for balance and then for leverage. He did play a lot of soccer in Germany, so maybe that was a benefit to American football.

“The team is not as united,” Wakefield said of his American football squad in Germany. “There is not a will to win. Over there, it doesn’t really matter if you win or lose. Coaches over here are much more engaged.”

In Germany, Wakefield watched American football once a year — the Super Bowl during the early morning hours. That was it.

Now, he is all in with the game.

“In football, the coaches gave me the chance to get better,” he said, praising the Woodland staff.

The game also helped with his big move to the United States.

His father, Lincoln, played and graduated from Woodland. Lincoln was in the Army when he met Petra. They married and had Alex and lived in Germany for Alex’s first 16 years. The marriage ended and Lincoln planned on moving back to Washington.

“The reason I moved is I wanted to support my dad, and I always like trying new things,” Alex Wakefield said. “Why not move?”

Still, it was tough leaving his mom. And all of his friends. The internet, though, keeps everyone in touch, he added.

Woodland is looking to challenge defending champion Hockinson in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League in 2018. Photo by Mike Schultz
Woodland is looking to challenge defending champion Hockinson in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League in 2018. Photo by Mike Schultz

Joining the football team as soon as he arrived was another life-changing decision. He said he has so many friends because of the game.

“How the team connects, how it feels when you are part of a team, you are part of a family,” Wakefield said. “Not just during the season, but in the offseason. You stick together.”

A year ago, the Beavers tied for second in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League, then lost a heartbreaker in the district playoffs. They also gave state champion Hockinson its closest battle in league play.

Wakefield said this is the year the Beavers should take another step in becoming a great program.

“It’s our senior year. We all have the drive to make big things happen,” Wakefield said.

He added that the team is talented enough for a state championship.

OK, that might be a huge stretch, considering Woodland has not won a state playoff game since 1984. But Wakefield and the Beavers love the mindset. They have to think big. They witnessed a team from their league win it all a year ago. The Beavers respect Hockinson but are not afraid to battle them.

“Why would we have fear if we want to become what they are?” Wakefield asked. “If we want to become state champions, we cannot fear them.”

See? That did not take long for Alex Wakefield to learn the first thing about having success in American football. One must believe in his teammates and believe in himself.

Alex Wakefield challenged himself when he decided to move to a new country at the age of 16. He has found success on the football field and in school, making new friends, creating new memories.

In so many ways, he has already won.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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