Jacksonville Sports Day

Flagler Mentality Shapes Nowotny in Pro Contract with CF Pozuelo

ST. AUGUSTINE— Charlene Nowotny veered a little off script.

Many of those who play with FFC Turbine Potsdam elect to go pro after their prep years; however, this German midfielder — better known as “Char” — opted to test the American waters.

“Before I came to Flagler College, I played in an academy and some players from that academy sign a contract and go pro out of high school,” Nowotny explained, “but basically, I decided to go to the U.S. and study and play soccer at a good level. I wanted to combine both studies and soccer — and the amazing opportunities of studying abroad and everything.”

Needless to say, her game plan was executed. Not only did Nowotny develop into an All-American on the pitch in St. Augustine, Florida, she excelled in the classroom and was named the CoSIDA Academic All-America® Team Member of the Year, the most prestigious academic award in Division II women’s soccer.

Those strides allowed her to find her true self and fall in love with soccer more than ever before. In result, she was able to achieve everything she wanted in the United States and still go on to play professionally as she signed and joined the ranks of CF Pozuelo de Alarcón on September 2.

“I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to play after college, but with how things developed I just wanted to keep going,” Nowotny said. “I really enjoy soccer. It’s my passion, so I didn’t want to just stop working.”

Hidden Gem

It’s a small world.

When Ashley Martin, the Flagler College head women’s soccer coach, first caught word of Nowotny, it was through a mutual connection across campus. Randall Conley, a friend of Dr. William Procter’s son, was the host family for the to-be Saints’ superstar — while she was in Tampa for a tournament — and he instantly thought of Martin when she expressed interest in playing collegiately within the United States.

Conley’s email about his talented house guest intrigued Martin and sparked a conversation with the future Flagler student-athlete, who ended up evolving into more than he ever anticipated.

“I watched some video footage, and I really liked the video footage,” Martin said grinning. “If you would had asked me her freshman year how successful will she be here at Flagler, I was unsure, but I knew there was talent there. She’ll tell you herself that being a part of our program reunited her passion for the game a bit.

“I think the rest is down to her and her work ethic. The success that she had was down to her willingness to want to be great. She arrived at Flagler as a good player and left as an exceptional one.”

In fact, Nowotny, a native of Marburg, Germany, became Martin’s first Flagler student-athlete turned professional following an impeccable senior campaign that featured nine individual accolades:

CoSIDA Academic All-America® D2 Member Of The Year
CoSIDA Academic All-America®, First-Team
CoSIDA Academic All-District® 3 Member
D2CAA All-America, First-Team
United Soccer Coaches All-Southeast Region, First-Team
D2CCA All-Southeast Region, First-Team
All-PBC First-Team
PBC All-Academic Team
PBC All-Tournament Team

Those awards mirrored the midfielder’s efforts on and off the field, where she produced a 10-goal, 20-assist season to break the school’s assist record — en route to Flagler’s first Peach Belt Conference Regular-Season and Tournament Championship, NCAA Division II Southeast Region crown and
Final Four appearance — while maintaining a 3.97 cumulative grade-point average in the classroom.

“When I came to Flagler, I was in a totally different situation” Nowotny said. “I grew up a lot as a person. Just to study abroad, so far from home, it’s a big step and Flagler has taught me some of the most important values that I have. You have to keep working and trust in the process, just like coach (Ashley Martin) always says — that if you really want to achieve something you can do it and you have to trust the process and work hard every day.”

Staying True

There were some nerves.

Nowotny admits that. And rightfully so, after the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world and left unanswered questions to her future once she graduated from Flagler College in May, with a degree in psychology with a minor in both biology and business administration.

But, overpowering the nerves was the Flagler mentality the four-year letterwinner gained and used to put her name and the Saints women’s soccer program on the national stage.

“During this time with the Coronavirus, when things are uncertain, you have to be patient and keep doing the right things on a daily basis,” she said. “I think that’s one of the most important things I learned at Flagler for sure.”

So, that’s what Nowotny did. Even before flying home to Germany in July, she was running, getting touches, and doing strength training for when her opportunity presented itself. More of that same drive continued overseas, and then her chance followed.

Again, it was a friend of a friend who put her in position for an opportunity, and she didn’t waste it. Her Flagler teammate and best friend Concepcion Sanchez Recuero’s father, Jose Sanchez Parra, who is a player’s agent in Spain, was the connection in setting up the Spanish women’s football team and the German midfielder for a tryout.

“It’s always a weird situation because you don’t know anyone there,” she said. “It’s a different country. It isn’t my native language, but I just tried to do my best, enjoy playing soccer again after a while since I haven’t been able to play. With the Coronavirus and everything, I was just thankful to have the opportunity to get back on the field. I just tried to show my best and enjoy it.”

By no surprise to those who watched her excel at Flagler, Nowotny was right on cue.

Steered by her adrenaline, Nowotny put everything else aside and let her skills do the talking. It impressed CF Pozuelo de Alarcón enough to earn the well-rounded, talented German a spot in Madrid for her first professional gig.

“It was pretty exciting because with the Coronavirus and everything, I was kind of scared about not finding a team at the next level,” she said. “Right now, the situation here is not really, really good and it’s hard. I came late in August and usually teams have their players before that. Many teams already had their squads full, so I was really happy when they would sign me to the team, and I could play for them this year.”

Upcoming Season

With schedules in various sports altered due to COVID-19, Nowotny said the plan is for the season to begin mid-October. The league has also adapted to the current situation, taking the two usual sub-groups (north and south) and branching out into four groups within.

According to the CF Pozuelo Female Twitter (@PozuFem), the club will begin October 18 in the North Group as the North SubGroup A. Nowotny’s new club website can be found here: CF Pozuelo de Alarcón.

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