Low numbers of international athletes after US-centric recruitment process

Nisha Gharti Magar, Sports Reporter

Prospective international athletes face unique and challenging obstacles during the recruitment process which has led to smaller numbers of student athletes being accepted to Whitman athletics.

Sophomore Klaudi Kyjovska has been the only international student athlete on the women’s soccer team for the past two years. Kyjovska believes that one reason for the lack of international students in Whitman varsity athletics may be the application process. Kyjovska was unable to fill out 80 percent of the application form when she was trying to be recruited because the form was designed for domestic athletes.

It is this difficult process that discourages international students from joining collegiate sports, and they are demotivated to pursue their passion to play sports in college.

“I sometimes feel disappointed when my peers do not understand the sacrifices international athletes make in order to be on the team and how they feel void when family can’t come and support them during games,” Kyjovska said.

Families of many domestic students are able to support their children at games, but that is not the case for the families of international athletes. Although families of international students cannot attend games physically, Kyjovska believes that Whitman could do more by adopting other ways to support them.

Within Whitman’s small international community, very few participate in athletic activities. Those who want to join sports at Whitman face many challenges, from the recruitment process to not being supported adequately during games.

“Creating opportunities for international students’ families to be part of the process and allowing them to be as close to the athletes as the domestic athlete’s families can lead towards the right direction to support international athletes,” Kyjovska said.

Mamane Yaou, a sophomore and member of the men’s basketball team, also believes Whitman can promote sports among international students by focusing on an international recruitment process.

“It makes me happy that I am not the only international athlete on the team. I hope more international students can put themselves out there to be seen and that Whitman puts in more effort to bring in more international student athletes,” Yaou said.

Although recruitment for international athletes is difficult and they face many challenges in order to be part of the team, international athletes are often grateful when their team members and coaches open up and recognize the difficulties that they face.

“My teammates and my coach make me feel comfortable, and they are always there for me. The coaches are understanding about the difficult process of recruitment for international students; so, they are there to help you with anything,” Yaou said.

Sophomore Holden Hillis, a domestic student and member of the men’s cross country team, believes that more can be done to diversify Whitman’s varsity teams.

“Often, more domestic athletes are recruited in college sports because it is assumed that they are likely to attend college in their home country,” Hillis said.

Hillis also believes that Whitman can host more events and make the recruitment process easier in order to bring international and domestic athletes together.

By making small changes to the admission and recruitment process, the international presence within Whitman athletics could strengthen and allow for athletes to work within a culturally diverse team.

Information about recruitment for Whitman varsity athletics can be found on the Whitman Athletics website.