A love of athletics has meant an inter-continental trip for one young German, and has resulted in a love affair with Mount Airy.
Irmina Reithmair, 24, has been visiting the area since July 23, and is presently preparing to depart for home in Grafenau, Germany, but not without taking away a multitude of memories.
“I love it here,” she said Thursday with an infectious smile. “I have to admit I’ve fallen in love with Mount Airy. I’ve met the most friendly people I’ve met anywhere. Everyone wants to know where I’m from. Germany is a lot more rushed, even though I’m from a city that’s a little smaller than Mount Airy.”
It all began with a love of sports.
Reithmair has been volunteering at Reeves Community Center, an opportunity that opened itself up through family contacts.
“I knew (Reeves Community Center Executive Director) Catrina (Alexander) and her father because her mother lives in the same neighborhood in Munich as my father, so when I wanted to come over here to America, they stayed in touch, since (Alexander) has known me my entire life.”
Reithmair completed an exercise science degree in 2011 at Loughborough University in England, where she lived for five years.
But she wanted to know more about sports, and America is where she wanted to go to learn.
“I want to focus more on the elite sports level, and since America is very big on sport, it only made sense to come here,” Reithmair said. “Germany is all about healthy living, but elite-level sports aren’t that big. I wanted to come over here and have a chance to experience what people like over here, how they work sports into their lives and what it means to them.”
So in July, Alexander and Reithmair once again were face to face.
“With Catrina working in this area, it was a nice chance to come here,” she said. “It gave me the opportunity to talk to people in the sports field and generally get an insight of what the sports scene is like over here. I have had the chance to see how people practice, how they train, how much they work, everything.”
And sports is nothing new to the athletic German.
“I just love sport,” she said. “Every since I was little I’ve participated.”
Reithmair is a former Bavarian champion figure skater, “I was decently good,” she said humbly. She was also a college volleyball player and martial artist.
She laughed as she recounted her sports endeavors.
“My parents wanted to keep me busy, so they signed me up for everything,” she said. “I’ve kept that love of sport throughout my life. Anything said in sports-related classes was very easy for me to understand. It’s something I’m passionate about. I’m always moving and always jumping around.”
And what American sport does she find fascinating?
“My new love is baseball,” she said. “We don’t have that in Germany, I learned about it watching A League of Their Own. It’s one of the sports I haven’t tried myself, so I guess that’s what makes it interesting for me.”
During her visit, she also had the chance to participate in her first 5K race, during this year’s Downtown Rocks and Runs.
“Because (Alexander) cooks so well, and they don’t have a Chick-fil-A in Germany, I had to start running,” Reithmair said with a laugh.
But she’s taking away much more than a new sport from her trip.
During her visit, Alexander and family friend Roger Cramer have shown her the region.
“We went to Pilot Mountain, Hanging Rock and did all the touristy things,” she said.
“I was thinking when I was getting ready to come over here that I wanted some insight of what life is like over here,” she said. “And after experiencing it I could see myself coming over for a few months for an internship, or even living here.
“I don’t know where I will go or what opportunities will arise in the future, but I could certainly see myself living here. This place is just amazing.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.