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Ping pong guru brings talent to USC

By Staff | Dec 15, 2013

Not many people can say they have been playing competitive table tennis since the age of 10. Tobi Kuschel can, though.

“He is crazy good,” host mother Shelly Dahl says. “Tobi can spin the ball all over the table. He will serve and the ball will hit and all of a sudden spin sideways making us all look foolish for swatting at nothing.”

His host family has even taken him to a table tennis tournament in Rochester. After winning five rounds, he lost to a 12-year-old national champion.

In February, Kuschel plans on traveling to Minneapolis where he will participate in another state table tennis tournament.

“The sport is very competitive,” Kuschel explains. “I know people who train all year, just to compete in one major tournament.”

Kuschel says that he plans on winning a trophy during his stay here in Minnesota. He said he would give it to United South Central so they could have something to remember him by.

Since there is no table tennis team at USC, the German native played for the Rebel football team and is currently playing basketball.

Kuschel was the Rebels fieldgoal kicker.

“I just wanted to kick,” Kuschel says. “I was afraid to get tackled. I’m just a table tennis player. So I figured that would be the best position for myself.”

The German native loves anything to do with sports. Being active is something he tries to accomplish every day.

The 6-foot-4 Kuschel plays soccer and any activities he can, including ping pong, on the weekends back home. There is never a dull moment here, according to the German native.

“In Germany, school is for school,” Kuschel explains. “Here at USC, people have lots of school spirit and are involved in numerous sports and after-school activities.”

Between basketball and choir, he really doesn’t have a lot of free time during the week.

“He leaves the house at 6 a.m. and won’t return until 9 p.m.,” Dahl says. “We are thankful that he is so into the school activities because our family was always involved in something.”

The Dahl family didn’t even know they were going to make the decision to have an exchange student.

Kuschel came from a 10-day “American workshop” (as he referred to it) in Boston; he then traveled to Chicago; next, he flew into Rochester.

However, Kuschel did not have a family set up for him to stay with, yet.

“We didn’t even know there was a foreign exchange student who needed somewhere to live. We found out about it last minute,” Dahl says. “He stayed in Fairmont for 10 days, then my husband and I decided that it would be a great new experience.”

After bouncing back and forth, Kuschel finally had a home in Bricelyn.

The small farm community was not such a huge culture shock to Kuschel.

“I am from a small village called Dortmund,” he says. “However, I was only about five minutes away from a town of 50,000 people.”

Back home he lives with his mother, his father and his brother Felix, 21.

“I do miss my family, but I could not have asked for a better host family,” Kuschel says. “They are kind and super, super, super awesome to me.”

Kuschel is optimistic about going to New York City with the USC choir for their fine art’s field trip. He has also been to the Twin Cities for Gopher basketball games and the Dahls took him to a Minnesota Twins baseball game.

He still keeps in contact with his family by using Skype.

“My mom was somewhat nervous for me so she made me a book called, “My Lifeguard,” Kuschel explains. “It has laundry tips, recipes, birthdays of family members, phone numbers and pictures.”

When asked about the biggest difference between Bricelyn and his village, he says there really isn’t a huge difference between America and Germany as a whole, in general.

However, the people here, he says, could not have been more helpful and friendly on my first day at USC.

“I was extremely nervous on my first day. It did help that I knew some of the football players I met before school even started, Kuschel says. “This experience so far has been great and very, very busy.”