HOLLAND – Eli Krimendahl is a bit like a gentle giant.
But on the soccer field, the elder Holland Christian has no problem using his 6-foot-8, 205-pound frame to intimidate.
“It’s easier to win balls in the air and play on guys,” Krimendahl said. “It’s kind of like… people are a little afraid to play against someone bigger and taller.”
In the first half of a 2-1 win over Unity Christian last week, Krimendahl collided with a Crusaders player and sent him flying over the grass.
“That’s what I love to do,” he says with a smile.
Football is not a big sport. But Krimendahl is a talented defender with a great leg.
“Eli obviously has a great build and a great poise around the ball and does well in the air,” said Holland Christian coach David DeBoer. “He played the game a lot. So it’s important to have that playing experience. It’s good to have him there (in defense).
Krimendahl transferred from Holland Black River after his sophomore year, so he had to forfeit his junior season due to transfer rules.
“He trained with us, but was not eligible to play,” DeBoer said. “It’s hard to see him not playing and to find the joy of practicing and just watching game day. It’s hard to see a child not being able to play the game they love.
Krimendahl said: “It was really hard to sit on the sidelines and watch everyone over there and see the victory in the districts… and you’re right there. It was really hard. I’m happy to be able to play now.
He scored his first goal for the Maroons (7-0-2) last week against Hamilton.
“I was playing center the other night against Hamilton,” he said. “Kirby Eggers (passed) me the ball at 18 (yard mark) and I finished it with my left foot in the upper left (corner). It was my first goal and it was the only time I I played in midfield in two years. I have played in center since then. It felt good.
He said he scored six or seven goals in his sophomore year at Black River.
It’s no surprise that Krimendahl also plays basketball. He was on the Maroons varsity team last season. But, surprisingly, football is its main sport.
“I definitely prefer football,” he said. “I have been playing football for a lot longer. Basketball is more of a hobby.
Caden Brink, a sophomore who plays backfield defense with Krimendahl, said he’s a nice weapon to have.
“Normally you don’t see guys this tall playing soccer, it’s amazing how good he is for his height,” said Brink. “It’s so nice on the headers. It’s a relief to have him there. Takes a bit of stress away from us. He’s a great player.
Brink said it was fun to see the reaction when opposing teams encountered the 6-8 Krimendahl on the pitch.
“They’re pretty scared,” Brink said with a laugh. “I’m sure it’s intimidating for them.”
Brink, who is in his first college season, said he admires Krimindahl. Literally and physically.
“He’s a really good mentor to me,” said Brink. “He really supports me and I watch him. He’s a good player and a good guy.
Krimendahl said he has piqued the interest of college football coaches but doesn’t know what he wants to do next fall.
“I don’t know yet if I want to play sports in college,” he said. “I’ve spoken to a few schools, but I’m not sure yet. “