If you glance down the hometown column when searching the rosters of the Wolfpack athletic teams, you will notice that TRU athletes are invited from all over the world.
I wondered what the scouting process was and why they decided to come.
Callum Etches, a British player on the Wolfpack men’s soccer team comments: “It’s all about connections. I took a year off after playing in the States and decided to return to North America to finish my degree. After talking to a few coaches who linked me up with a few more coaches, I decided that TRU would be the best fit for me.” Etches expresses that coach John Antulov is a great communicator and scouter for the team, “He showed a lot of interest in me and made the process super simple.”
Elite athletes who play in Europe often have an opportunity to go professional. If not for the top divisions across Europe, they are usually offered contracts in the second or third division. This leaves players with the ambivalent decision of trying their sport professionally or using their skills to get a scholarship to earn their degree.
“When I turned 18, I had the opportunity to go professional, but decided a degree was worth more,” Christopher Rass said, a Wolfpack men’s soccer player from Austria.
“I had a few options, but I thought the idea of playing in Canada was interesting. It’s been a dream of mine to come to this country, to see its mountains, and it’s been a blessing to be able to play the sport I love while getting educated in this wonderful place,” said Rass.
The professional sports life, a dream for many young kids growing up, is often not as great as it seems. A high level of competition is parallel to high levels of pressure; meeting the standards of a coach can be unnerving.
Professional sports are often glorified, layers of pressure and sacrifice for what might be only a few years of low division play is a reality.
With that being said, the life of a student-athlete in North America can be a great option for sports lovers from around the world. It is an opportunity to meet life-long friends, earn your degree, and still play at a very high level in exchange for a scholarship.
Most international athletes left their home countries to pursue a degree and left their families behind, only being able to visit during the summer and winter holidays. Some plan to move back after their education while others plan to stay. A few of them even came to Canada with their families in order to seek a better life.
“I was born in Poltava, Ukraine,” said Anastasiia Muzyka, a member of the Wolfpack women’s volleyball team. “When I was 16, I moved to Azerbaijan to play pro. I stayed there for two years before moving to Canada due to the fact that my father got his permanent residency. Because of that, I was able to move to Canada to start a better life.”
Muzyka is thrilled about her opportunity here in Canada: “It’s a better life here. I did not want to return to Ukraine due to the ongoing war along with a lot of corruption and terrible economics. My coach in Azerbaijan knew the TRU coach and they were looking for a setter.”
It’s apparent that international athletes come from all over the world and all walks of life. Each of them came for different sports and different reasons. Every one of them has their own interesting story, but one thing they are all connected by is the spirit of sport. It is incredible to spectate and watch the different variety in our athletic program. It solidifies the idea that we are all the same. We are all one.