German soccer player excels in American football
Sam Hahn thought it might be a real “kick” to come to America and spend a year as an exchange student at a U.S. school.
Little did he realize how true that idea was going to become.
The 16-year-old resident of Dornstadt, Germany, ended up in Minnesota at Blue Earth Area High School.
He joined the BEA Buccaneer football team as the kicker and recently set the school record for longest field goal kick a 51-yard feat. It is also the fourth longest field goal in Minnesota high school football history.
“It’s amazing,” he says, of both the record kick and the fact that he is playing varsity football at all. “It is really fun, I really like it. I don’t really have to do very much, just run in for a kick every once in a while.”
That can sometimes be for a kickoff, which he has often sent sailing into the end zone, or a point after touchdown, where he has often been a perfect 5 for 5, 6 for 6 or even one game when he was 7 for 7.
And then, there are the field goal attempts.
“I made the one for 51 yards, then last week I missed one that was just like shorter than a PAT,” he says. “I felt pretty bad about that.”
Back home in Germany, one of his favorite activities was also playing ‘football,’ but it is the kind known as soccer here in the U.S.
He also likes going biking with friends in the summer and snowboarding in the winter.
“I also enjoy watching movies and playing video games,” he adds.
His family back home in Dornstadt, a town of 7,000 population, includes his father, Helmut, mother, Christine, brother Tim, age 19, and the family dog, Maxi.
Hahn’s father has a master’s degree in computer science and works for Mercedes doing IT duties. His mother, Christine, is a secretary at his school.
“That can be sometimes a good thing and sometimes not so good,” Hahn says with a smile. “But I guess it is OK.”
He is going to a school called a gymnasium and is on a track to head to college.
“We are all in the same school through fifth grade,” he explains. “Then we go to different schools after that, depending on how good our grades are. Some quit school after ninth or 10th grade, others go on to a college or other school after 12th grade.”
School in Germany is a bit different than in America, Hahn adds.
“In Germany our school day might be to 1 p.m. on one day, 3 p.m. on another and until 5 p.m. on some days,” he says. “There are times during the day where we don’t have class and we can hang around and do nothing.”
Hahn says he has adjusted quickly to school at Blue Earth Area and likes it.
“I am around people all day and meet new people all the time. Everyone here is very friendly and nice.”
He wonders how an American student coming to his school in Germany would fare.
“I am not so sure how it would go,” he says. “Germans are not as friendly to foreigners; it would not be so easy to find friends as it is here.”
Hahn is taking a full load of classes while at BEA, including such things as physics, pre-calculus, chemistry, psychology, philosophy and world religions.
That gives him some good amounts of homework to get done after football practice.
But although he is busy with school activities, he is going to find time to do a lot of touring around the United States, as well.
Hahn is staying with Eugene and Vicki Boeckman, of Elmore. He is the 16th exchange student they have hosted, starting in 1996.
“We really like to take our students on trips and show them the country,” Vicki Boeckman says. “It is something we feel is important.”
Already they have taken Hahn on a trip to Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills and the Badlands, before school even started.
This week, during the Education Minnesota break, the Boeckmans and Hahn left for a trip to New Orleans leaving after Wednesday night’s football game at Luverne, of course.
They have a trip to Colorado planned for over the Thanksgiving holiday, since the Boeckmans have a son living there.
Then for Christmas it is a trip to Las Vegas, Arizona and California.
Some of the trips might have to work around sporting events. Hahn plans on going out for basketball in the winter and either tennis or track and field in the spring.
But for now, his total concentration is on football.
“I love being a part of the team,” he says. “There is so much team spirit with everyone.”
Hahn says he was amazed at how many people were in the stands at the first game of the season.
“We don’t have anything like that in Germany for our soccer games,” he explains. “I was pretty nervous standing on the sidelines because of all the people. I was standing there and my legs were shaking. But when I went in to kick, I just concentrated on making the kick.”
Hahn says he is very happy he made the decision to come to America, but he is not completely sure how he got here. He really had not thought about being an exchange student.
“One day my friend said he wanted to do it and he said I should, too,” he recalls. “I thought about it and then said ‘why not?’ and I?applied. Suddenly a year had gone by and I was on a plane to America and I wondered if this was really such a good idea.”
Especially since he was headed to Minnesota, a place in America he had never heard of.
Now, he is sure he made the right choice.
“This is really cool,” he says. “I love being here.”