The conclusion of a four-year football career at Lakeland College was not the end of football for former Muskie Martin Ringeisen, who has found a unique place to ply his trade in the sport.
Ringeisen, a 2007 graduate of Lakeland with a degree in computer science, is part of a growing list of Muskies who have played professional football overseas in Europe. He has also had a good share of success playing in several different countries, and the three-year veteran of playing in Europe plans to head back overseas to play again this year.
Ringeisen, a native of St. Cloud, Wis., and a graduate of New Holstein High School, played football from 2003-06 at Lakeland. He was a tight end and caught 12 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown in his four-year career, playing on successful teams that finished with a 28-13 record over those four years. Despite his relatively modest statistics, Ringeisen decided after college that he didn't want to be done with football, and decided to look abroad for opportunities.
Ringeisen first found out about European football from former Muskie quarterback Brent Luebke, who played in Austria upon his graduation from Lakeland in 2005. Former Muskies Ryan Van De Loo and Ryan Maiuri also played overseas, and Ringeisen credits Van De Loo with helping him get connected with teams in Europe.
Ringeisen began his professional career in 2009 in Austria when he played for the Linz Steelsharks. When he began playing in Europe, Ringeisen made a position change to quarterback, and though his team was not a success on the field, finishing with a 0-9 record, he said he was able to learn a lot, including what teams in Europe are looking for in an American player both on and off the field.
In 2010, Ringeisen signed with the Wernigerode Mountain Tigers in Germany. In his second season as a quarterback, Ringeisen led the team in Germany to a 10-0 record, the first perfect season in team history.
"Having that be my first perfect season in any sport ever was something truly amazing," Ringeisen said. "It is something that nobody can take away from me."
Ringeisen bounced around in 2011, with a spell of bad luck resulting in him playing for two different teams for reasons out of his control. After the 2010 season, he had a number of teams looking at him due to his experience and his team's perfect season the year before, and he joined the Esbjerg Hurricanes in Denmark.
"That was my first season where I was able to be a part of building the playbook for the offense and help with the preparations for the game plan each week," Ringeisen said. "After a few games we were 3-0, but there was talk about the team losing one of its biggest sponsors. Sure enough, two weeks later I had a meeting with the president saying the team no longer had enough money to cover my full contract."
Rather than giving up on his dream, Ringeisen immediately began looking for another team. He signed with the Coventry Jets out of England on a Wednesday, and capped a crazy week by playing his last game with the Hurricanes on that Saturday. He finished his final game with one passing touchdown and three rushing scores, including a 70-yard TD to clinch the win in the fourth quarter via a 50-point mercy rule, a bittersweet finish to his season with the Denmark team, which was 5-0 at the time of his departure and capped a 15-game winning streak for teams Ringeisen played for.
While playing in England, Ringeisen played on a team that struggled on the field, but he was able to teach the European players in the fundamentals of the game. Then in his fifth game with the England team, he tore his MCL, ending his season.
Despite his injury, Ringeisen decided to push on and said he has spent "countless hours in the pool, gym and weight room" rehabilitating his knee. And after all that work, he has signed on to play in Europe once again, this time for a team for Lausanne University in Switzerland. He is the team's starting quarterback and also its offensive coordinator, and before he went to Switzerland he spent several weeks working out with Lakeland's wide receivers in preparation for his season overseas.
Remembering his time at Lakeland, Ringeisen credits a number of former professors as well as his coaches with being influences on him as he has built a career in football.
"The way Lakeland most affected me to be ready to be able to enjoy such an amazing opportunity can be summed up in two points," Ringeisen said, "the first probably being my influences from some of my professors. Pam Engebretson, Karl Elder, David Lynch…in their classes I was able to learn how to use certain words in the correct order to help build creditability. (I gained) the ability to stand up in front of crowd and just improve something from the heart with only a few minutes to prepare. And how to end a very productive teaching session by asking: 'Does anyone have any questions, comments or concerns?'
"The second point would be summed up in four letters-R.Y.F.P. Reach. Your. Full. Potential." (This was a point emphasized by former Lakeland College football coach Jim Zebrowski) Whether it was in the classroom, on the football field, or just in life, Lakeland taught me to always keep striving to be great. This same attitude kept me striving to reach my goal of playing football overseas."
Former Muskie Ringeisen finds football success in Europe