Former Bethel QB returns from playing pro football in Germany
Sports | Michael Whartnaby for The Clarion
Josh Aakre runs for a score against St. Thomas on Oct. 22, 2011. | Photo for The Clarion by Nicole (Nettleton) Willenbring
On a Sunday night last March, Josh Aakre received a message from a coach in the German Football League (GFL). The coach needed a quarterback for his team, and he wanted Aakre to come to Germany and play for him. Four days later, Aakre decided to go, and he hasn't regretted it at all.
Aakre, a former Bethel quarterback, ranks eleventh in school history in rushing yards and fifth in career passing yards. He was named to the all-MIAC team in 2011 and helped lead the 2010 team to the national semifinals.
Aakre was originally unsure of what he would do after his graduation. However, the message from coach Jovi Stojceski of the Osnabrück Tigers opened a door.
“God is a God of 'suddenly,'” Aakre said. “He opens and closes doors, and sometimes he takes a sledgehammer to your face.”
The spontaneity and suddenness of the door opening to professional football proved to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The Osnabrück Tigers are part of the GFL2, which is the second-best football league in Germany. The season consists of 14 games over a 19-week period, with practices held three times a week. Aakre was one of two Americans on the team, which is allowed two imported players on the field at one time.
The Tigers finished with an 8-6 record — a successful season, considering it was their first season in the GFL2. As a team, the Tigers accomplished two of their three team goals by finishing with a winning record and avoiding relegation to a lower league.
Aakre was sidelined for the last few games due to what appeared to be a serious ACL injury. However, after returning to Minnesota, Aakre found out he had a torn meniscus that would require surgery and a six-week recovery period. Had it been his ACL, Aakre would have been out for at least six months.
Despite his injury, Aakre had the time of his life. “I would suggest it for anybody,” he said.
His dominance on the field spoke for itself. In 12 games, Aakre, known for his dual-threat abilities at Bethel, accounted for 35 total touchdowns, 21 passing and 14 rushing. Aakre also finished third in the GFL2 in total offense at 265.3 yards per game.
Playing professional football, forming relationships and living with a host family in a foreign country collectively contributed to his positive experience.
Aakre is now back home with family in Madison, Minn. and regularly visits friends and former coaches at Bethel. He does not have any immediate plans for his future, but that doesn’t worry him. Whether he plays football again, opens a sports performance facility or goes into business, Aakre labels himself a servant. It is who he is and what he is best at.
“Whatever your passion is, pray about it and go for it,” Aakre said. “And seek the Lord daily.”
He won’t count anything out at this point. His faith and trust in God makes him confident that the Lord will put him where he needs to be.
“God is a God of 'suddenly,'” Aakre reiterated. “And the Lord works in strange ways.”