Junior Shaunagh Hartz is a German exchange student who began attending Glenbrook North this year. She cycled competitively in Germany and now participates in GBN cross country. Her responses were edited for grammar and clarity.
Q: Have you lived in or visited America before?
A: I haven’t lived in America, but my family and I come here every summer, at least once a year. Also, we sometimes visit at Christmas time because my mom is from New York, so we have this connection.
Q: Why did you decide to become an exchange student?
A: I have always wanted to, that was my plan since I was born. It was always my dream to go to an American high school.
Q: How has the transition to school and cross country been?
A: The school is very different. Also, cross country here is very competitive. I do cycling at home in Germany which is kind of different. For practices, you decide on your own if you go cycling or not. Here you have to go and there is a little more pressure on running every practice. Sports here are combined with the school, so you do them in the school. Your hobbies in Germany are usually outside the school and are not related.
Q: So your cycling was not affiliated with the school?
A: Yeah. It was a club in the town and my dad is an athlete, so he got me into that. My brother does it too. My mom doesn’t, but the rest of the family does.
Q: Do you have any memorable cycling races?
A: Yeah, one race I fell on my face. Just before the first curve I biked 100 meters and fell and scratched my whole face. Also, at the German championships last year I had a flat tire, but the race was really fun because it felt very professional. There were cars following us with supplies, like a race you see on television. I had a flat tire and I was in the first group of bikers and I fought very hard to stay in the first group since I was already really exhausted. It was during the last round, so I stopped and the car behind me came and they quickly changed my tire and drove me back to the group. I made it and got 16th overall, so that was a good race.
Q: Since you did so well in the two-mile time trial for cross country, do you feel cycling has helped prepare you for cross country?
A: Yes. I am an athlete. Of course, it is a little different and you need to use other muscles, but the pain and accepting the pain is the same in cycling and running. Also, I wasn’t that out of shape.
Q: Are there any other differences you have noticed between sports in the United States and Germany?
A: Yes, so the United States is huge. In Germany, I am the only girl in my age group in my state for cycling, so I am immediately the best in Lower Saxony. Being a state champion here is a big deal. In Germany, there are not as many people participating.