Exchange student Himmel trying out a new sport
Published 11:06 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2015
A foreign exchange student from Germany picked up her first career hit for Dowagiac in the second game against Cassopolis Monday.
Oliva Himmel, who has never played softball before coming to Dowagiac as an exchange student was 1-for-1 with an RBI against the Rangers.
She has been playing for the Chieftain JV this year, but was brought up Monday by Dowagiac coach Mike Behnke due to her tremendous speed.
“We knew Olivia had a lot of speed,” he said. “She was just raw because she had never played a game and she wanted to try something new. She worked at it. She came to every winter workout. She worked hard and she has improved so much that we brought her up. She showed what she could do. She put a ball on the ground and beat it out. She is a much better fielder too.”
Himmel said there are no high school sports teams in Germany, only club teams.
She has ran track and played tennis, but wanted to experience something new while in America.
“First, I saw it on Instagram where people were posting photos and video and I thought it looked pretty fun,” Himmel said. “I thought about track or tennis, but I had already played those sports in Germany, so why not try a new sport.”
Himmel is happy with her choice. In fact, she may continue to play softball once she returns to Germany.
“It is an amazing sport and I really, really like it,” she said. “I have already thought that when I get back to Germany trying to find a club and maybe I will play there.”
Although she looked like the game has come to her pretty quickly, Himmel said that is not the case.
“It is really hard,” she said. “I had to learn in four months how to hold a bat or catch with the left hand which I have never done before. It was really hard for me the first time, but I tried to go to every open gym so that I could learn a lot.”
She appreciates the effort that Behnke has put in to help her learn the game and to get better at playing it.
“I try to listen to everything he says and then I try it so I can get better and better,” Himmel said.
And what about getting her first career varsity hit Monday?
“It was really cool and I am really excited,” Himmel said.