|UST Goalkeeper Lukas Simon Balances Academic Goals|
When German native Lukas Simon first came to the University of St. Thomas in 2007, it was the inaugural year for official intercollegiate play in men’s soccer. To some experienced players, it may have seemed like a gamble to join a first-year team at a university with no previous intercollegiate experience. But Simon saw something more.
When he joined the Celts, Simon saw potential and an opportunity to have a profound impact on a program that was entering its beginning stages. He knew that with the right teammates and a common goal to succeed as a team, UST soccer could become a solid and respected program.
And since 2007, he has seen that vision become a reality. Simon has taken on the position of co-captain and goalkeeper, helping the team build with every year and leading it to a semifinal appearance in the Association of Independent Institution (AII) Conference Tournament in the fall 2009 season.
While this goalkeeper is committed to the team, he keeps his own academic goals as a top priority.
As a junior bioinformatics major, Simon aspires to learn more about this relatively new field that incorporates math, biology, chemistry and computer science into researching human genome sequencing. It’s a field of study in which he hopes to eventually earn his master’s degree. But for now, his focus remains on his undergraduate studies and a keeping a hard work ethic on the soccer team.
One of the reasons Simon chose to attend college in the United States is because of the healthy balance of both academics and athletics that American universities offer – something that Simon said is unheard of in European countries.
“I like the fact that it’s a very professional set-up here,” he said. “We play soccer, practice every day, and then after soccer, we go to class or study. In Germany, it’s either-or when it comes to soccer and school. If you want to play at a high level there, there’s no time for school. Or if you want to go to school, there’s no time for playing soccer at a high level. Here, it’s a perfect mix, and you get to have both.”
And the factors that set UST apart from other universities in his mind are the school’s academic reputation and small university feel.
“I chose UST because the soccer coach – Aaron Champenoy – was really great. The school is in a big city, which is important to me, and because not every school offers my major,” he said. “And of course the University has a high academic standard and a low student-to-teacher ratio, which I like.”
Though soccer and classes leave little room for Simon to take in any free time, he still manages to get out and experience all that Houston has to offer.
“Unlike Germany, being in a big city like Houston offers a lot more culture,” he said. “There’s so much more variety and different kinds of food here. That’s what I enjoy most, just getting out and trying new things.”