Transitioning from being a high school athlete to compete in a Division I program is challenging for any freshman in college, but it can be a particularly unique experience for first-year international student-athletes. Being thousands of miles away from home is a challenging transition for any international student, but can be more amplified as an international student-athlete.
For freshman Tyler Sagl, the move from Ontario, Canada to join the men’s basketball team at Marist took hard work.
“My biggest transition has been managing time, making sure I do everything I need to do to be successful,” said Sagl. “Athletic competition is also much different than high school, you have to bring your all every day to practice.”
Division I athletes spend most of their time with teammates. The team atmosphere in college is different from what athletes have often previously been exposed to. College athletic programs have a greater focus on the mental aspects of sports. This has helped Sagl to build on other skill sets in basketball.
“The team is far more professional. Everyone takes it seriously, because we all have the same goal in mind. Since the summer, I have become significantly stronger mentally,” he said.
International student-athletes also have to deal with additional transitions apart from their athletic ones. The change in people, location, and academics can become overwhelming. Although Sagl feels as though being a part of a team has helped to ease his transition.
“The team showed me around, and I got to meet new people through their friends,” said Sagl.
Traveling from even further away is William Tevie from Accra, Ghana. With over 6,000 miles between Tevie and his family, the soccer team has helped him transition to Marist and the United States as well.
“The Marist team is way better, it has more quality players, more organization, and it’s Division I soccer,” said Tevie. “Sometimes I go out to my teammate’s houses to play FIFA, or just hang out. The coaches have team bonding events like going out to eat or going to the coaches’ home.”
Being so far from home presents challenges for Tevie as it has Sagl. Tevie often finds himself running to practice in between his classes. He mentioned, “it’s more fast-paced. There has been a change of balance between schoolwork and athletics as well.”
Both Tevie and Sagl are adapting to Marist well. At the moment, they are finding success in and out of the classroom as they balance academics, sports, and college life. The transition process for all freshman is still in the early stages since Marist is only four weeks into the fall semester. Tevie and Sagl committed to Marist for a reason and are enjoying the intensity of basketball and soccer. Freshman international student-athletes like Tevie and Sagl prove that the miles separating them from their homes doesn’t hinder their athletic and academic progress at Marist.