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Basketball helps bridge gap from Germany to Snyder

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The Snyder girls' basketball team has been helped by a player who moved in this summer.

Franzi Luecke didn't come from another west Texas town, or even from a neighboring state. Luecke is from Germany.

The junior is a foreign exchange student from a town in northern Germany about the same size as Snyder that is less than a hour's drive from the North Sea.

"Nobody has so far made fun of my accent," laughed Luecke, who arrived in Snyder in August and will depart from Germany after the school year.

"It's pretty cool. The people are really nice."

Luecke's host is one of the team's coaches, Jan Kruse, who was persuaded to be a host home by a teacher at Snyder Middle School.

"It's been really fun," said Kruse. "She is funny and out-going. They've traveled extensively around Europe, and to the United States at least twice so it wasn't culture shock bad."

The program allows the student to choose the country, and the host to choose the student. Kruse said she needed to host a girl who played basketball because she spends so much time in the gym coaching.

"It's great," said Luecke. "She is a basketball coach, and I play basketball so that fits perfectly. We can spend a lot of time doing it and we both enjoy it."

Basketball has not only helped Luecke and Kruse adjust to each other, but also help Luecke feel more at home.

"Because we are a team we are also friends, so I would say it's really helped me making friends."

Luecke's parents encouraged her to be a part of a foreign exchange program, but they thought she was brave to come over to another country at 15 years old.

She enjoyed Homecoming in the fall, visiting California with Kruse and head coach T'Lead Eicke over Christmas break, and all the small things that a part of being an American teen.

One thing she hasn't liked much is the longer school day.

"In Germany we only have school until 1:00. I could live with a school day that is only until 1:00."

At 6-feet, Luecke is the tallest player on Snyder's team and has been in the starting line-up this season. She played basketball for a year and a half in Germany, but has immersed herself in the sport now.

"She's learned we're a little more fierce at it," chuckled Kruse. "We go at it a little harder than she did, but she has stepped right in."

Luecke is glad she decided to take part in a foreign exchange program, and happy she landed in Snyder.

"It's a great experience. You can learn so much not only about a different country, but also about yourself."

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