Sprinting down the field, smashing a tennis ball and working hard–just a few of the things Bexley’s exchange students have been accomplishing in their first weeks on the high school’s athletic teams.
Senior Pauline Vidal from Reims, France plays on the girls tennis team. Vidal said she plays on the junior varsity’s third singles court and enjoys spending time with her teammates.
“Everybody is my friend on the tennis team,” Vidal said. “All the girls are super fun and super sweet with me.”
Vidal said in the U.S., tennis is much more intense than in France. She explained that in France, tennis is mainly played for fun whereas in the U.S., it is practiced for an hour more each day and there are opportunities to play competitively instead of just for fun.
A few reasons she wanted to take an exchange year were to learn about the culture, get better at English, meet new people and know what it feels like to get away for one year, she added.
“It is a challenge, but I’m not regretting it,” Vidal said.
Vidal explained that before she leaves, she wants to learn the English language better and experience and learn something new every day.
Vidal said her favorite moment so far this season was going to Cincinnati with her tennis friends to watch the Western and Southern Open. She said she also enjoyed many fun tennis games with the team.
Vidal said she decided to play tennis this season because she played in France and her host mother is also one of the coaches of the girls tennis team.
Likewise, sophomore Diego Rembado also played his sport before arriving in the U.S.
Rembado said he has played soccer since he was 4 years old. He is from Madrid, Spain and is a midfielder on the boys varsity soccer team. He added that he has really enjoyed his experience so far and has felt really comfortable with the soccer team.
“They are all very nice,” Rembado said. “It is easier to make friends if you see people [every] day.”
Rembado said his favorite moments so far have been scoring a goal against Columbus Academy in the team’s 3-0 win and dressing up with the team on the day of the game. He wants to help the team go far in the tournament and win the state finals in November, he added.
Boys soccer coach Jason Goggins said Rembado has been a great addition to the boys soccer team. Goggins explained that he was aware that Rembado was coming to Bexley a week before tryouts, and after evaluating his talents, it was evident that he was a varsity player. Goggins added that Rembado is a very hard worker, is very coachable and has fit in with the team very well.
“He has played an integral role on the team in keeping us at a high level in training and contributing with quality minutes during games,” Goggins said, “a big reason we are currently 10-2-1.”
He said that his favorite moment with Rembado was when he scored his first varsity goal. He explained that he gives Rembado a tough time in practice, so it was truly a special moment.
Rembado explained he came to the United States because he wanted to get better at English and experience the American Dream.
“The American Dream, it is really attractive to the whole world,” he said. “I wanted to get the experience and the American Dream.”
Rembado explained that his new experiences have allowed him to make friends with the other exchange students, like fellow sophomore Bona Haering from Stuttgart, Germany.
Haering said she plays center midfield on the girls junior varsity soccer team and has really enjoyed her experience so far. She said girls soccer in the U.S is much more important than girls soccer in Germany, while boys soccer in Germany is just seen as more important, Haering added.
Haering said a primary reason she came to the U.S. was to improve her English. Her grandmother was born in the U.S. and grew up in Bexley, she said, but moved to Germany later, so she already had a connection to Bexley.
The girls soccer team has really helped her settle into Bexley by welcoming her with open arms, Haering said.
“You spend more time with [the team] and everybody was very nice to me,” Haering said.
She said that her favorite moment was when she scored a goal against Fairfield Union Wednesday, Sept. 27.
Haering, Rembado and Vidal all said that they have enjoyed playing with their sports teams and feel very connected to America because of the experiences that they have already had and because of the kindness of all the people that they have met.
“I never want to stop speaking to the people that I meet here,” Vidal said.