Why study in the US? A&B interviewed a few athletes.
With the March Madness in full swing and major tennis tournaments on the horizon, student-athlete recruitment season is here! So why do so many students try their luck and make the decision to cross the Atlantic, just to play a sport? We interviewed several athletes to find out.
The opportunity to combine elite sports with high-level studies, a rare situation in Europe, is a major part of the United States’ appeal. "I decided to go to the United States to continue to practice a high-level sport for a while,” explains Julie Bernard, a former golfer at Newman University. “Here in Belgium, it is very complicated to combine studies and sport.” Studying in the United States guarantees that a student-athlete will be able to develop his or her game with the luxury of having a diploma if he or she does not succeed at the professional level. "I decided to go to the United States to graduate from a University while continuing to play at an elite level” confirmed Sofie Oyen, a former University of Florida star. “It’s something that is problematic to do in Belgium. In America, however, the universities are specifically designed for that purpose!” The opportunity of practicing intensive English is also a reason to cross the Atlantic as explained by Charlotte Verelst who played field hockey for the University of Massachusetts. "English is necessary in the business studies I wanted to pursue and thanks to the US, I was able to combine my sport with quality studies.”
Another appealing aspect of studying abroad: The facilities available to athletes. Massive stadiums, 24/7 access to state of the art fitness and training facilities, Olympic- size swimming pools and tennis complexes rivaled only by elite resorts are, indeed, standard on a university campus. A look inside the biggest student-athlete facilities is enough to leave most professional European sports clubs envious. Romain Bogaerts, a former Wake Forest Tennis player, echoes this sentiment: "I was able to join a university with an amazing sports complex. Having three tennis coaches, a fitness trainer and a physiotherapist helped me develop my game without having to sacrifice my studies."
The reputation and prestige of universities are defined, in part, by the results produced by their student-athletes. This need to perform incentivizes schools to offer scholarships—which cover up to 100% of the tuition fees. Scholarships allow athletes to access a high-quality education and elite athletic competition at a minimal price. In addition, all expenses related to your sport will be covered, from transportation to equipment.
Being part of a community of athletes dedicated to representing their university is an incredibly rewarding experience, and we hope that you can be part of it.
We’ll see you in two weeks to explore the challenges faced by all those student athletes.