High school sports: Camas soccer standout back after a year in Germany

Owen Tuttle, a senior at Camas, spent a year in Germany at an athletic academy. He returned for his senior year and has helped the Papermakers reach the state quarterfinals. Photo by Paul Valencia
Owen Tuttle, a senior at Camas, spent a year in Germany at an athletic academy. He returned for his senior year and has helped the Papermakers reach the state quarterfinals. Photo by Paul Valencia

Owen Tuttle enjoyed his experience of European athletics and academy life

Paul Valencia

It is soccer. It is football.

No matter how it is described, it has deep meaning for Owen Tuttle.

“It depends on who I’m talking to,” Tuttle said. “Around here in Camas, I call it soccer. In Germany, it’s football.”

A senior at Camas High School, Tuttle has plenty of experience in America and in Europe.

Tuttle and the Camas Papermakers are preparing for Saturday’s quarterfinal match in the WIAA’s Class 4A boys soccer state tournament. 

A year ago, Tuttle was more than 5,000 miles from his hometown, playing football in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. He spent a school year there as part of a program that allows American athletes to experience life at an athletic academy in Europe.

“It was really great. It was super intense, immersive,” Tuttle said. “I got to experience German coaching and got first-hand experience of what that was like.”

Competing for FC Schalke U-18, Tuttle and his teammates – including many Americans and some Germans – trained twice a day and had matches on Wednesdays and Saturday. For academics, they took online classes.

This was a soccer-rich environment. Or, rather, a football-rich environment.

Tuttle, a 6-foot, 5-inch center back for the Papermakers, earned this opportunity while performing well at nationals in America during the summer between sophomore and junior year of high school. Tuttle grew up playing for the Washington Timbers, now called Columbia Premier.

A scout looking for talent to go to Europe noticed Tuttle and a conversation ensued.

Owen’s parents, Molly and Crawford, have always been supportive of Owen’s athletics. Still, questions had to be answered. The family did some research on the program, and asked athletes who had participated in the program how it worked for them.

They agreed to allow Owen to have this opportunity.

So he was off to Germany, on his own. He lived with his teammates on the campus of the club, similar to hotel life with teammates on a travel team back home, Owen said.

Beyond the sporting life, Tuttle also learned what it was like for life, everyday, in Germany. Fortunately for him, and other Americans, most Germans have strong English skills. Still, Tuttle wanted to improve his German skills. 

By the end of the school year, he had improved.

“It’s a really tough language to learn,” he said. “I was good at understanding it, but not the best at speaking it.”

Tuttle said he would recommend the experience to any young soccer player from America.

“Personally, I matured a lot, and I really understand what I want to do with my soccer,” he said. “There is a clear path on how I want to achieve my future goals.”

He is not sure just where he will play college soccer, but he does intend to play at the next level.

Right now, though, his focus is on the present. The No. 4 Papermakers are hosting No. 5 Chiawana at 4 p.m. Saturday at Doc Harris Stadium.

Tuttle scored the equalizer on Tuesday after Camas fell behind 2-1 against Mount Rainier. The Papermakers would go on to prevail 3-2.

Tuttle said it was a bit of a shock to the system when Mount Rainier scored two quick goals to take the lead in the second half of the opener.

“I knew we’d been in that situation before. We just had to trust each other,” he said. “We just focus on the next thing going forward. That’s why I think our team is so strong.”

In the closing minutes of the match, a collision sent Tuttle to the turf. He got up tasting a lot of blood. He needed six stitches to close the wound on his lip, but fortunately for him, he did not suffer a concussion. He said he is a go for Saturday’s quarterfinal.

Tuttle said he is happy to be back in Camas to help the Papermakers for his final year of high school after taking that one year in Germany.

“I’m super proud to be part of this group,” he said.

Back home in Camas, he feels right at home playing his sport.

“Soccer gives me a sense of competitiveness and an outlet to express myself freely,” he said.

High school state playoffs:

Columbia River has also reached the quarterfinals in boys soccer. The Rapids, the No. 4 seed in the Class 2A tournament, will host No. 5 East Valley of Spokane at 3 p.m. Saturday at Columbia River High School.

In Class 1A, No. 11 Seton Catholic will take on No. 6 Wahluke in a round-of-16 matchup Friday. King’s Way Christian lost in an opening round match earlier this week.

High school baseball state playoffs start Saturday. Camas and Battle Ground (Class 4A), Columbia River and Ridgefield (2A) and Seton Catholic and La Center (1A) are Clark County’s representatives.

For WIAA brackets, go here: https://www.wpanetwork.com/wiaa/brackets/tournament.php

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