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My American Football Journey – Philipp Ponader

Philipp Ponader - The Battered Bastards

Hello , my name is Philipp, I am 26 years old and I’m an American Football player from Germany. This is my football journey so far.

My First Contact With Football

In 2006 I spent my holidays in the USA, Seattle, with my aunt. There I bought my first football and from then on, the fascination was born. My cousin taught me how to throw and catch a ball and we played in the backyard til the sun was down.
Since then I started watching the Superbowl.

The problem is, growing up in a small village in Germany isn’t that easy. Basically there weren’t that much teams and the next team was about 2 hours away, so I did what almost every German kid does. I kept playing soccer ’cause I did it for all my life.

When I was 19 I started my job as a police officer and from then on I also started working out at the gym.

I was 24 when there was a regional combine in my hometown, where they looked for talented players. I wanted to start something new, so I went there and they said that I got talent. The only problem was that I had to move to Munich. I needed a different team to start playing football.

Fursty Razorbacks 2016-2017

I visited Fursty for the first time and everybody was so nice to me. I was a complete rookie, only knew football from the TV but I felt comfortable right from the beginning. So I started to learn techniques, rules, and all that stuff. I was the 6th string Runningback in the depth chart and due to my good right foot I also got the job as Kicker.

Philipp Ponader - Fursty Razorbacks
Philipp Ponader – Fursty Razorbacks

In my first season we won the championship, moved up from Division 3 to Division 2, the GFL2. I scored 3 TDs, 38 XPs and 2 FG and I developed a lot.

The next season I moved up in the depth chart due to an injury of my teammates. As a starter I rushed for 495 Yards on 102 attempts, 3 TDs and 9 Rec for 86 yds and a Rec TD. I added also 29 XPs and 2 FG.

So my first message to you out there:

‘It is never too late to start the game. I started with 24. Be patient, stay humble, work your ass off and wait for your chance to pay back the trust of your coaches. You can do it. You will never find something like that again, I swear to God. Football brings you a second family, it brings you emotions and a feeling you will never get again. Imagine scoring a Touchdown in front of 1000 fans cheering your name. Imagine getting to the locker, celebrating a win with 50 of your brothers, your family. Imagine your brothers crying with you, ’cause you lost the final game. All that is football, no matter what color, no matter from which country, football connects worldwide, more than any other sport. Football is family. And I am proud to say that I found that big family. ‘

Philipp Ponader - Fursty Razorbacks
Philipp Ponader – Fursty Razorbacks

Straubing Spiders 2018

Due to a move away from munich in 2018, I had to look for another team so I signed with the Straubing Spiders, GFL2. I was accepted so fast and I really love my teammates there. As I said before, football is family.

Everything went quite well for me and my team, until the 27th of May.

– Homegame against the Albershausen Crusaders-

I was in at Kickoff and I hit a good lane at the returner. I tried to make a cut move in the direction of the returner to make the tackle. In that moment I got blocked from the blindside, with my right foot stuck in the ground. I lay on the ground and couldn’t get up in that moment. I knew that my knee was destroyed. I felt it.

The thing was, the other runningback was also injured so I was the only one at that time on the roster. I didn’t want to disappoint my family on the pitch so I kept playing. During the breaks, I iced my knee, I tried to tape it and I fought as long as I can.
I blocked, I juked, I made defenders miss even though the pain started to evolve. I continued for 3 more quarters.

Philipp Ponader  - Straubing Spiders
Philipp Ponader – Straubing Spiders

Injury

Next day, I took an MRI and the doctor told me what exactly happened to my knee because I wasn’t able to walk anymore.

‘Torn ACL, torn meniscus inner and outside, overstretched ligaments everywhere, cartilage damage..’

That was a hard diagnosis, one year without playing football, surgery, all that struggle. Struggle at work too. I couldn’t go on duty for a long time. But I was ok with that, I knew right away that I screwed it. I didn’t drop a tear til then.

But I couldn’t stop crying when all the messages from my teammates reached out to me when they heard from the diagnosis :

– ‘You’re a soldier. I would go to war with you brother!’ –

 ‘Never seen somebody juking around, fighting so hard for every Yard like you did for your team. Respect for that! You are a big inspiration to me‘ –

– ‘I wish you all the best, you will come back stronger and you got my support for ever!’ 

That shit went straight to my heart. I’ve never felt that much support. And that was the reason why I could accept it. I could have cried all day long, could’ve asked myself ‘why me, why now, why an injury like that’. But I didn’t. I’m a soldier.

Philipp Ponader  - Straubing Spiders
Philipp Ponader – Straubing Spiders

Rehab

God wants me to complete that challenge? Alright let’s do it. I’m ready.
Two weeks after my surgery I put my crouches away and started walking by myself. I went back to the gym to get strong again. 4 weeks after the surgery I started cycling, swimming, going for easy weights. I practised a lot at home, cooled my knee, stretched it and worked together with my doctor and my physio on a daily basis.

Now 8 weeks after the surgery I went hiking, going for heavier weights, doing whatever is good for me. I stay positive, no matter what is in my way. It’s there for a reason and you got to learn from it. I will be back, like Arnie. I will get back stronger and I will work hard for it. It will be a long road but as long as you ride it with your beloved ones, it will be ok.

At this point my journey ends so far with another message for you.

‘Work hard for your goals, be conscious and confident with the things you got. Otherwise you will miss them when you lose’ em. And no matter what happens in life, always try to see the positive sides of the disaster. Everything happens for a reason. Try to grow from every challenge you need to succed, and even if you fail. Stand up and try again. If you quit, you really lose.’

Philipp Ponader  - Rehabilitation
Philipp Ponader – Rehabilitation

I want to thank my teammates, my family and friends, my doctor and my physio and of course my beautiful girlfriend for the support and the love they gave me during this hard time. You make me go rise again.

Thank you!

Poh

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The Battered Bastards

Stories & stats from the battered bastards of American Football from around the world.


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