Q&A with Luise Fleischhauer
Junior rower Luise Fleischhauer (Dresden, Germany) has emerged as a natural leader for the University of Texas Women’s Rowing team ever since joining the Longhorns squad in the fall of 2004. One of Texas’ most experienced rowers, Fleischhauer’s teammates often look to the 6-1 junior for her proficient technique and power application in the boat. Fleischhauer recently took some time to sit down and talk with TexasSports.com about Germany and share her thoughts on life in Texas.
What do you miss most about Germany? My family, friends and the food. My family has been very supportive of me being in the U.S., but sometimes it is hard because they are so far away. Being so far away from my family really makes me realize how much I truly appreciate them. I’m very close with my brother, who’s eight years older than me. He is 28 years old, but when he and I are together, we act like little kids.
Is there anything here in Austin you think you’ll miss when you move back to Germany? I’ll probably miss how the people here have so much fun watching sports. They’re so into sports here and you just wouldn’t see that in Germany. You also have a college stadium that holds over 80,000 people here at Texas. I’m not sure if our national soccer team stadium holds that many people. It’s just so impressive how much pride is involved in collegiate athletics. That’s what I think is really impressive, the whole attitude that you stick by your state and have complete loyalty to your team.
Why did you choose Texas? A lot of my friends from the German National Team were going to Ohio State and I considered going to Ohio with them. However, I thought that I would have a better learning experience in a new country if I broke out on my own. If I had gone to school with them I would have been too comfortable speaking German and not learning enough English. Also, the weather here was a lot better and I was sick of the cold.
How much English did you know before you came to the U.S.? You learn some English in German high schools, but you don’t learn how to carry on a conversation. The most confusing thing when I first came over here was when people would ask, “How are you?” In Germany, asking, “How are you?” is how you are actually feeling, it’s more personal. One time, I randomly saw a professor who asked how I was when he walked past me. I was thinking, “Oh man, he wants to have a talk with me about the class or something,” but he just kept walking and I was very confused. I figured out later that it’s just a phrase similar to saying, “Hi.” In Germany, people wouldn’t do that, they would just say “What’s up?” or something along those lines.
Did you play any other sports prior to rowing? I did some speed skating, which I got into because my brother was a speed skater. Running and skating were the main ways that we trained, and at that age, I didn’t like running, so I became a speed skater.
How do you prepare for a race? I wake up three hours before a race and eat a normal breakfast. After breakfast I get loose, stretch out and check over everything on the boat. I always wash the boat in one direction from stern to bow, it’s my little tradition. Before we start rowing, (head) coach (Carie) Graves tells us good luck and gives us last-minute pointers for the race. We then go up and down the river to warm up. After warming up I try to relax until we get to the starting line. You have to be relaxed beforehand to actually get full focus.
How would you compare national competition to collegiate competition? I think that international competition brings a bit more pressure because you are representing your country. Being there means you’re one of the best in your country, so you want to show people that you belong on the team. In college, it is very similar because you want to represent your school to the best of your best ability. Competition is competition. You always want to give your best.
So I heard you are a big soccer fan...? Soccer is really big in Europe; it’s like football in the U.S. Almost every town in Germany has a soccer team, and you also have the national team that competes in the World Cup. It was pretty impressive when I was in Germany during the World Cup this past summer. I went home to Dresden, and three days later the World Cup started. It was funny because when I first came here to UT, everybody was always wearing Texas clothes from head-to-toe and I wasn’t used to that kind of dress. Then I went home for the World Cup and people were wearing German stuff, painting their faces and hanging flags out of cars. It was crazy. I had never seen Germany act like that.