Few people take the time to realize how busy the life of an international student-athlete is, and there are a lot of steps that must be taken when student-athletes travel to America to further their education and participate in sports.
The Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at American schools are involved in recruiting student-athletes from across the world.
Dr. Richard Sander is the director at ETSU and says there are a few ways to go about recruiting international student-athletes: International coaches can recommend students to the school, international student-athletes from ETSU may travel back home to coach or train athletes when they graduate, or ETSU just simply searches for the best student-athletes no matter the area.
“I think some people are critical to having international students,” Sander said. “They say, ‘Well you know we need to recruit American student athletes.’ I think the reality of it is that we are trying to recruit the best student-athlete that we can.”
Once recruited, these students have to adjust in many ways: They have to adjust to the language, adjust to the environment, and sometimes, adjust to the differences in how their signature sport is played in America.
ETSU, along with other colleges, take these athletes in and help them get adjusted to everything.
“The coaches brought us everything we needed,” said ETSU women’s soccer team senior Cecilia Re (Busnago, Italy). “Because our families are so far away, they help us with everything we need. Not only soccer, but school and personal things, too.”
Re says her family is one Skype call away, and they also watch her games online when they cannot make it for the game.
“I didn’t know if I was going to come here and stay or leave after my first year,” Re said. “I decided to stay, and I’m so happy with that decision. It helped me grow not only as a soccer player but as a woman. Being so far from home without my parents made me solve problems on my own.”
Re attended Liceo Scientifico G. Marconi for school before coming to Johnson City.
Unlike America, sports and schooling are not grouped together in Italy. If you participated in sports, you played for a club team. Re competed at the club level for Fiammamonzaa and played for Italy’s Women’s National Team.
“When I was playing for my national team, the women’s soccer coach from here came to watch me,” Re said. “He asked me and one of my teammates if we were interested in coming here and joining the team.”
Sander believes it’s all a matter of who is the best in both the classroom and in sports regardless of whether they are from America or not.
“I think there is a lot of benefit with having diversity,” Sander said. “I think the international students can give us that diversity, and I think the international students can give us some of that diversity in every way.”