Whittell’s Heldt-Werle commits to Westminster soccer in Salt Lake | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell’s Heldt-Werle commits to Westminster soccer in Salt Lake

Douglas Etten

Submitted to the TribuneBlake Heldt-Werle made a star of himself at Whittell High School in Zephyr Cove. The local graduate will head to Salt Lake City where he joins the Westminster mens soccer team this August.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – Hard work, dedication and a demeanor that’s carried him well through four years of high school soccer have made Blake Heldt-Werle want to become a better soccer player, still.

All those same qualities played a major factor in the Whittell High School graduate’s decision to want to take his game to the next level, and make him a perfect fit for the growing Westminster soccer program in Salt Lake City, Utah.

This week the former Warriors standout announced he will be continuing his competitive soccer career come August.

“It was during my junior year when I really realized I enjoyed playing soccer, but wasn’t sure how to pursue it (at that next level),” Heldt-Werle said. “I had mostly stuck to the idea that high school would be it, but after I went over and checked out Westminster, I realized it was a level I could compete at.”

Westminster competes in the NAIA Division I Frontier Conference, finishing the 2010 season at 9-9-1 overall while advancing to the Independent Conference Tournament in Omaha, Neb. The Griffins advanced to the postseason for the 20th time in the 27 year history of the program.

Heldt-Werle’s prep career was a decorated one, and set him up nicely heading into the college ranks where he’ll continue to try and better his game on the defensive side of the pitch.

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He was a four-year starter for head coach Steve Maltase, serving as team captain for three of them. He was honorable mention in Whittell’s 3A league his freshman and sophomore years while being named to the first team All-League and honorable mention All-State his junior year.

This past season, after helping lead the Warriors to another successful season, he was honored with a spot on second team all-league as a defenseman.

All-in-all, that spurred enough of an interest from Westminster coach Chris Dorich, and solidified Maltase’s belief that Heldt-Werle had what it took to move forward athletically.

“Over the four years, we’ve talked about his ability and the possibilities and he’s really stuck with it,” Maltase said. “His work ethic and leadership is outstanding. Even he’ll probably admit that sometimes he gets a little too emotional, but that comes from being competitive. He’s only going to get better, more intelligent and stronger so I really think he is moving into his better years. He had a really nice high school career.”

Maltase, who played college soccer in the Portland area back in his prime, took a step back in time with Heldt-Werle as he tried his best to help him through the decision making process. When he learned that one of his own players would be moving on, the excitement was there for both of them.

“When I heard he had made his decision, it was exciting,” Maltase said. “I am always happy when one of my players is pursuing opportunities in the sport that they love. It was fun getting to help guide him through the process.”

“The small school feel of Westminster was the big factor in my decision,” Heldt-Werle said. “I really like the location and the fact they have Business as an undergrad. They are a very good liberal arts college without any standardized tests and thought that was sort of cool.”

Athletically, Westminster was never really on Heldt-Werle’s radar. He first became interested in the school when he heard of his grandmother and grandfather meeting there while students years ago.

“The whole soccer program is relatively new to me, but when I got in contact with the coach over e-mail I really liked that it was a smaller college that had a soccer program,” Heldt-Werle said. “I had been looking in California, Oregon and Utah … mostly staying somewhere in the Western U.S. Westminster had everything I needed and also had a lot of interesting programs.

“I was really excited to learn that they had a JV programs because it almost guaranteed that I would be playing soccer right away.”

Dorich though has told Hedlt-Werle that he has different plans for the incoming freshman which should pit him in the mix for a varsity role almost immediately.

“I know I’ll need to pass a couple running requirements,” he said. “They also want me to gain weight and get faster of course. It’s going to be difficult to do both, but I really want to work on my endurance and quickness and just getting stronger and general.”

Heldt-Werle’s summer will be cut short as he’ll head to Salt Lake already in early August for fall workouts.

He knows that with a lot of his focus early on in the school year revolving around soccer, he needs to remain focused on what the main objective of going to college is.

“Education is first and foremost,” he said. “I definitely enjoy soccer, but I also understand the reality of me playing professional soccer is very small so my education is as important as anything. I am a little nervous, but excited. I’ll be ready for it by the end of the summer.”