Hometown Heroes - Hans Konieczny
LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -
A Lake Charles man wasn’t even a legalized U.S. citizen when he was drafted into the Vietnam War. In later years, he was credited with helping popularize soccer in the Lake Area.
Hans Konieczny came to the United States from Germany when he was only 17. He picked up the English language along the way and later found himself training at Fort Polk, after being drafted into the Army.
“Fort Polk was a very unusual training base and I only took up basic training,” recalled Konieczny. “I didn’t have to take advanced infantry training because of my driving capability.”
This was only 20 years after World War II, when there was still anti-German sentiment in the U.S. Hans says he was only bothered once.
“Only one soldier, he used to drink a lot. One night he came into the barracks and said I’m going to kill me a German. My dad killed a whole bunch of them and I’m going to kill me one. I went down to security and they hauled him off.”
Later, Hans came to Southwest Louisiana and helped establish a soccer team in Westlake... the Spartans.
“I was quite proud to have introduced and participate in a new type of education of a different sport.”
Back then, soccer teams were rare in Southwest Louisiana, so the coach became a mentor to his players. Konieczny has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He’s hoping to hear from his former soccer players soon, so they can plan a reunion. You can contact his daughter, Kim Pilcher, for more information: 337-540-3439.
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