By Nicole Page |
At Augusta University, nearly half of the athletics teams are made up of international students. On the women’s golf team, six of the eight team members are from outside the country. The draw to come to the United States for them is because they do not have college sports internationally. Most of these students have dedicated their childhoods competing at the highest level possible in their countries and are willing to travel hours and hours away from friends and family to follow their dreams as a collegiate athlete and possibly become a professional athlete after college.
On the women’s golf team, almost all of the international players moved away from home when they were 15 or 16 years old to travel to go to a golf school. Cecilia Diez-Moliner, from Madrid, Spain, moved away when she was 16 to a school a few hours from her friends and family to play golf. A typical day for her was to wake up and go to classes until about 11 a.m., have lunch, and then golf practice until dark. This type of schedule resembles a college schedule and prepares the international students for when they move to the United States.
“Traveling away from my family was hard, but it makes it easier because my high school schedule was so similar to my college one,” said Diez-Moliner, whose sister Teresa is also on the AU women’s golf team. “The culture is very different here, but it’s a very good experience for me.”
Some may wonder how these international students even find what college they want to attend. Charlotte Alran, who is from Lausanne, Switzerland, said that many of them contact an advising specialist to help them throughout the recruiting process. These specialists will research and contact schools that have spots open on their teams. After getting information on the schools, they will help the students narrow down their search of colleges and send coaches their information.
“My advisor was able to contact coaches and see if they needed anyone on the team,” Alran said. “If we heard back that they do, I would send them videos of my golf swing and my stats from tournaments to see if they would be interested, and then we go from there.”
Unlike students from the United States, many of these students aren’t even able to visit their college before moving here. This makes it hard on college coaches as well, because coaches may want to be able to see someone play their sport before flying them across the world to play for their team. Many schools are able to send their coaches to big tournaments overseas to try to recruit players they think will be an asset to the university. If a coach is able to find someone they think will be good, they are able to contact them any time after Sept. 1 of their junior year in high school to try to get them into the university.
In women’s golf, recruiting international players can be very competitive. Players from all over the world are trying to find a spot on a team, which means many of the players have to start contacting coaches way before the coaches contact them. It is good to at least get the coach to know who you are and recognize your name if they see it anywhere. Many girls start looking for colleges by their freshman year of high school, and even sometimes before that.
For international athletes, it is a dream for them to be able to come to the United States to get a good college education and follow their dreams of playing their sport at the same time. If they were to stay in their own country, they would have to choose between getting an education or going professional in their sport.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity that Augusta University has given me to play golf here and get an education as well,” Diez-Moliner said. “I love that I get to travel the world playing in golf tournaments and study.”
The AU women’s golf team has just had an outstanding outing in the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic, which was held April 11-13. Playing in Athens, Ga., the Jaguars lost to the University of South Carolina in the final, 3-2. Diez-Moliner and Alran both were all square in their final matches. AU defeated both Florida and Arkansas to reach the final with USC. The Jaguars had finished third in their own tournament, the Valspar Invitational, back in March.
Based on their strong performances this season, the AU women have earned a bit to the NCAA Division I East Regionals, to be played in East Lansing, Mich., May 6-8. The Jaguars will be seeded 12th in the regional.
Contact Nicole Page at NPAGE@augusta.edu.