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Column

From Germany with love

Patrick Simon knew he had to go see his son play basketball, no matter how long and how far it took to get there.

So when his son, Noah, a foreign exchange student at Bureau Valley High School, and the Storm basketball team won Friday’s sectional championship, Simon put the plan in motion.

He embarked on a trip that originated in Sweden to their homeland in Germany in time to make the flight overseas to catch the Storm’s super-sectional game Tuesday night in DeKalb.

“I asked him at the beginning of the year, ’Is there maybe a chance to visit you,’ and he said, ’No, I’m going to take this year on my own,’ and we respect that,” Simon said. “But after the last game (sectional finals), I called him and said, ‘When’s the next game?’ and he said (Tuesday). I was working until (Monday night) in Sweden, and I go quickly home to Germany and then come here.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m really proud of Noah like I am of all three of my boys.”

Noah didn’t disappoint, putting on quite the show for his dad, scoring 12 points (8 in the second half) and six rebounds in the Storm’s season-ending 60-45 loss to Chicago Corliss.

Simon asked the local sports editor how good of a player his son is, and I told him that he was doing real good, and you wouldn’t know he’s a foreign exchange student who just picked up the game a year and a half ago.

“I know that’s he not that bad,” Simon said. “But I know he was always too lazy in Germany and maybe there was nobody really to give him the right idea how to really (develop) his talents. That’s a problem if you don’t have good coaching, but it seems they have it here.”

Simon’s oldest son, Liam, also spent time as a foreign exchange student in America (Nebraska), and Simon said it’s been a great experience for both of them.

“It’s always good if your boys have no fear to go somewhere, integrate in another country, other nations, other people,” Simon said. “I just met Noah’s guest parents (Dave and Susan Dietz of Walnut). It’s always nice to hear he’s fit in, they love him like their own kid, because he’s fantastic.”

Simon said his son first picked up basketball while on a family vacation in Spain and saw a basketball court.

“They didn’t know what to do, so they started dipping around the basketball court. Of course, Spain is very deep into basketball,” he said. “I have to thank my brother, because now Noah is playing here in this fantastic arena (Convocation Center).”

The elder Simon, 43, is rather famous in the Formula Race Car circuit in Europe. Google his name, and you will find numerous articles on his racing exploits and his current profession as a commentator for the German Formula Car Racing Network.

He was to set out for Hong Kong to work the next racing assignment before returning home, he said.

“It’s one loop around the world,” he said, jokingly.

Before coming to America, Simon tuned into the Storm’s broadcast streams in the middle of the night at home. He said it’s been an unreal experience to be able to watch his son play, even if on a stream.

“I know how it is to broadcast, to commentate, to watch things like that, not in basketball, but car racing,” he said. “But then to sit in front of the television and see one of your kids be one of the main acts in that sport, it’s crazy.”

Simon went straight into racing and said it’s nice to see each of his sons explore other pursuits.

“It was all about cars (for me), and now all three of my boys are about balls,” he said. “The oldest is in soccer and a little basketball. Noah is completely basketball, and the youngest is a very good goalkeeper in German football.”

Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at khieronymus@bcrnews.com.

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