Q&A: A Conversation With Kristian Nicht – Part 2

In the second part of my interview with Indy Eleven’s first signing, we got to the good stuff: The Hoff, Scorpions and social Mohawks
by Doug Starnes   |   Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Checkered Flags – column on Indy NASL (Indy FC) & the Indianapolis soccer scene.

In the second part of my interview with Kristian Nicht, we moved away from soccer talk and discussed the nuts and bolt of growing up in Jena, his family, David Hasselhoff, and country music. I know, I know - it makes for an odd melange of topics, but hopefully, Indy Eleven fans can get a sense of what makes the first signing in club history tick. If you missed Part I of the interview, be sure to check it out here! 

You talked a little about your parents instilling that work ethic in you. Jena, at the time, was East Germany when you were born?

KN: Yeah.

Manufacturing community. Lot of tech stuff. Karl Zeiss obviously is there - the optics folks. Growing up in Jena, what did your parents do? What was life like? Do you have any siblings?

KN: I have a sister actually. Very American I think, by the way. [laughs]

Younger or older?

KN: Older. Three years older. Well, my parents were always working. My mum had a physical therapy clinic, quite big now with a lot of employees, my dad always was in a kind of mortgage financial business. Yeah, I mean, we used to - especially in that area of Germany - we used to work hard because we are fortunate enough that Jena is kind of quite a nice city with not a lot of unemployment. I mean, if you go look at some places in that part of Germany you have like 20-25% unemployment. So, I mean, I’ve basically been taught from the beginning to work hard for everything and I never was necessarily a talent for playing soccer, but I had always the desire to excel quite a lot.  [laughs] But all the other things I had to work hard for and I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be a professional for 13 years, if I wouldn’t work hard throughout my whole career.

Reading Ben’s interview, I thought it was really interesting to hear you say that you weren’t necessarily - you talk to a lot of professionals soccer players and they say that, “ I always knew I wanted to be a pro,” or “I always knew that I could be a pro.” I thought it was interesting that you said, like, “I don’t really know when it was. I just worked and it became something that was a possibility and I went ahead and that’s where my life took me.”

KN: When I went to youth academy, one of the probably highest decorated youth academy in East Germany and very well-known in Germany, one of the former socialism sports youth development things, however you want to call it, uh, only athletes in that academy, so basketball - basketball came a bit later actually - track and field, Judo, wrestling, stuff like that. So, I went to academy when I was 10, so you’re always surrounded by athletes, by athletes who are focused on being athletes, so I loved the childhood I had and when I was a teenager, but probably for a lot of people it would be very boring because there was basically only soccer and schoolwork and when my friends from outside soccer started to go out and partying - we do those things a bit earlier in Germany - I was at home and on the weekend I’m preparing for a game. I wasn’t even in town! I had a great, great childhood in the socialism, I was only 7 when the wall came down, but the best time of my childhood was when the socialism ended.

Did you notice a big change? Do you remember a change?

KN: I mean, I remember, even when I was just 7 I remember and I recognized that, uh…

Something changed? [laughs]

KN: Yeah, something is going on here! [laughs] But, like I said, a lot of people ask you, especially a lot of Americans ask because you guys already know what socialism and communism is all about.

I was 9 when the wall came down, and even then I can remember seeing it on television and thinking, like you said, this is something.

KN: And David Hasselhoff signing! [laughs]

David Hasselhoff, right! He brought the wall down and wants credit for it! [laughs]

KN: Yeah, well I’m not sure about that, actually! [laughs]

Is he really huge in Germany?

KN: He is!

Do you own a David Hasselhoff album?! Be honest.

KN: I think I have one at home, yeah! I think I have one at home. [laughs] “I’ve Been Looking For Freedom”, that song is just one of the anthems for the wall coming down. That and Scorpions “Winds of Change”.

Yes! With the whistling!

KN: Yeah! Those two songs, I mean, they’ll give me goose bumps when I hear those songs! Not that I’m a necessarily big David Hasselhoff fan, I mean, I watched Baywatch for like 12 years, but not really because of him, because of a couple other things! [laughs] But, yeah, I mean I recognized that it was different, but nothing really changed for me because my parents, they worked in other companies then - like they had their own boss - but it’s still the same as it was before and I was still playing soccer and going to school. They teach us other things at school then, but I’d only been to two grades in the socialism so I had just learned how to write. It doesn’t matter what system you are, they still teach it the same way.

What happened to the mohawk? [laughs] I saw the Wikipedia page and it was much more pronounced than it is now. Now it’s very tasteful. What happened to it?

KN: Well, I always had this haircut, right? I’ve had the mohawk a couple years now. I call it a social mohawk [laughs] and I went to a haircut somewhere in the summer this year - the haircut I usually went to in Rochester - it was just the other girl doing it. And everybody knows, ok, like when I told them I want a mohawk? Same haircut, just a little bit shorter. And at this point, it’s actually a funny story, because when she started, I got a message on my phone, so I pulled the phone out of my jeans, and I felt something strange, and she took the shaver right over here [points to the side of his head] and I looked up and I thought, “Oh, my God!’” She shaved everything bald headed until here. Only left the mohawk. I just…I couldn’t even say anything. I was just…damn, I’m in trouble. Then I thought maybe making it bald all over, and then I thought, “You know what, let’s go with that mohawk a little bit,” and I started to like it, actually! Then I came home to Germany and I saw my daughters after 6 or 7 months again, and my older one told me actually, “Daddy, I love you to be here, but,” and she pointed to my mohawk and she said, “I don’t want you to have that.” And she’s 9 so.

What are your daughters’ names, by the way? Can I ask?

KN: Fabienne and Felicia.

Which one is older?

KN: The older one is Fabienne.

Pretty names. Are they in Germany right now?

KN: They are in Germany, yeah.

Either of them soccer players?

KN: No, I try to avoid it, actually.

Really? Because you want something different for them?

KN: Well, a lot of people know me in Germany, especially in my hometown, and there will be a lot of pressure on them right away when they start soccer and, I mean, I don’t mind when they start to play soccer if they want to do it, I won’t stop them, but I don’t push them into it. So they just do whatever they want to do. They’re good in how do you call it? Equestrian? Things like that. Ballet, dancing. All the girly stuff. They stay with that how long they ever want and if they start to so something with soccer I’ll support them, but I don’t push them into it.

I think I have 3 more. One is an easy one. What’s on your iPod right now?

KN: Well, believe it or not, since my sister is pretty Americanized, I’m a diehard country music fan.

No, you’re not! [laughs]

KN: I am! Diehard Brad Paisley fan.

Really?! I saw him in concert in Ohio a couple of months ago, he’s an incredible guitarist.

KN: I know, I know! I saw a couple of country concerts especially at Canandaigua, which is a big country music venue up in New York. Kenny Chesney, I’m a big country music fan.

I’m shocked. You threw me for a loop. I’m originally from Texas and I don’t like country music and you’re from Germany and you love it. So who knew?

KN: Well, my sister came back after her high school exchange year and I was 16 and I was trying to be cool as hell so I picked up music and stuff and I never liked it, but I decided to go with it because it was music that was, like, in at the time and she brought me country music and country music in Germany is like, embarrassing, embarrassing. I mean, the German country music, you don’t want to listen to it.

What is German country music?

KN: I don’t even know. I heard a couple of songs and it’s like…not good at all. She actually brought me a Tim McGraw and Collin Raye CD and I kind of liked it and I’ve liked it since then. And then obviously, being in upstate New York in the middle of two big concert venues, all the big country stars come there over the summer.

Alright, I saw on your twitter account that you’re following the Pittsburgh Steelers.

KN: Yeah, I’m a Steelers fan. It’s pretty hard at the moment. [laughs]

Any chance of becoming a Colts fan at all?

KN: Well, I’ve said it before, I mean, I’m a Steelers fan.

Wait, when did you become a Steelers fan? I mean, in Rochester, I’d think you’d be a Giants fan or…

KN: Well, it’s actually a Bills area, but I don’t think you want to be a fan of the Bills!  I mean, they’re doing actually pretty good this year, but the last few years it’s been pretty painful with the Bills! I actually had a, I mean, I always liked football, but I never really had a team. So the 2012 season, in the preseason before everyone got excited about football again, I actually put a question on my Facebook account that, as a good foreigner, I need to adopt a football team. There were hundreds of comments and I met my ex-girlfriend at the time and she was a diehard Steelers fan so I stuck with it. But, I said it when I came here, I’m very willing to adopt the Colts as my second team. Especially since my team decided not to be successful anymore. So, I’m going to the Colts game [October 5] and I’m a very proud guy so I usually decide to support the home team and the Colts are definitely a team I will support.

Last question: Growing up, I’m sure you got a lot of good advice. For a kid who’s playing youth soccer right now in Indiana and who hasn’t seen the pro game very much, maybe 12 years old or so, what advice can you give that kid about the game and continuing to play?

KN: Well, the only thing you can tell youth players is have fun. You know what I mean? When it comes to things you’re going to do because at some point it’s going to be very hard. You will face adversity and face hardship whether you lose games or you get cut from a team, whatever, you have to have fun. Only if you have fun will you stay with it and you’re willing to give up a couple of other things, just to do what you love. As long as you have fun and you love what you do, you’re automatically willing to give up other things and be motivated. It just a game and it doesn’t matter what it is, soccer or anything really, if you don’t have fun, you won’t be good at it.

Great, I think that’s it. That’s all I have question wise. Thank you so much for your time and I’m looking forward to seeing you out on the field with Indy Eleven in the spring!

KN: Perfect! Thank you.  


Baylor Univ.
Club Domestic:
Indy Eleven
Club Foreign:
A reformed goalkeeper, cheese enthusiast, beer aficionado, and all around unrequited lover of The Beautiful Game, Doug currently resides in Indianapolis and is chomping at the bit to cover Indy Pro Soccer in all of its soon to be glory.