While soccer remains the king of sports in Germany, Chattanooga's sister city of Hamm has enough high school-age American football fans to form a football club.
This week, 17 members of the club are getting to experience their favorite sport firsthand at Ooltewah High School.
"We've been trying to prepare them for how big and loud our pep rally will be this afternoon," Ooltewah German teacher Ron Cates said Friday morning. "And we're taking them to our football game tonight."
Ian Orrock said he likes football better than soccer because of the planning and thinking involved.
"In football, there are plays you have to learn, and it's more interesting," he said.
The young men, all ballplayers, seemed to fit right in Friday with Ooltewah's 1,700 students.
"Everything here is big," said Max Ossenkemper, 14, through a translation by Mr. Cates. "The houses, the stores. Everything seems bigger."
Ooltewah students Elizabeth Cooper, 15, and Julianne Watters, 16, were impressed with the German students' ability to be surrounded by strangers and a strange language and still be outgoing.
"I would think it would be like being out of your comfort zone times 1,000," Ms. Watters said.
But the students seemed to bond through football, art, music and teenage humor.
In an art class, Sven Jezierski, Justin Krüger and André Schulte said they have very positive impressions of America from their visit. But "the school lessons are longer," said Mr. Schulte. Classes in Germany are only 45 minutes, but here they last 90 minutes.
"It's boring," Mr. Jezierski said as the American youngsters at the table laughed in agreement.
Mr. Cates said 12 of the 17 German teenagers are staying with Ooltewah families. The youngest Germans are staying in a hotel, he said.
German football itinerary
* Thursday: The visitors watched an Ooltewah football practice
* Friday: The students attended Ooltewah High School all day, including the school football game.
* Sunday: The visitors will attend an Atlanta Falcons game
* Monday: They get a workout with one of the Ooltewah coaches.