Crossing the pond for college sports
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 13:01
Growing up in another country, Utah State tennis players Sven Poslusny and Fredrik Peterson and basketball player Cristal Turner wanted a chance to play sports in the United States.
“They don’t really have that in Europe,” Turner said. “You basically have to choose between school and playing professionally.”
Turner grew up in Maidstone, England and had to make the choice of education over basketball when she was 16. She made the decision to pursue an education. For Poslusny, he knew at least two years before he graduated high school he wanted to come to the U.S. for college.
“College sports don’t exist in Europe,” Poslusny said. “That’s what I wanted to do here in the United States, get a degree and play tennis on a high level. Everything in Europe is a club sport, has nothing to do with the university. So if you study in Europe, you basically are a full-time student and don’t have time to compete on a high level.”
Poslusny, who hails from Lorrach, Germany, chose Utah State over several other universities after putting a video on YouTube for recruiting purposes. It was the level of competition the Western Athletic Conference provided that ultimately drew him to Logan.
“The WAC is really tough for tennis,” Poslusny said. “Every university was ranked except for Utah State so I knew I was going to have really good matches. So I came because I knew that I’d have a really competitive conference and that’s why I decided to go to Utah State.”
Playing sports in school is not only possible in the United States, but it’s much cheaper as well.
“Here you have a team, you have practice every day, you have weights, you have conditioning and everything is covered by the school, whereas in Germany or in Europe, you have to pay everything on your own and that would just cost a fortune, too much,” Poslusny said. “Everything is sponsored by the school, all the trips, traveling, gear. Everything would cost money in Germany.”
Aside from making it possible for international athletes to play their beloved sport and attend school at the same time, Poslusny and Peterson both agree playing tennis in the U.S. is much more enjoyable.
“I feel like the atmosphere is unbelievable here,” Poslusny said. “It doesn’t matter what sport it is, I feel like Americans care more about it. They’re more competitive, maybe not competitive, but enthusiastic. There are high school games on TV. You don’t see that in Europe. It’s all professional. High school doesn’t even exist. There are no high school sports or college sports, so everything here is taken more serious.”
From living in the United States for three years, Peterson feels like sports are a part of the society.
Events like Homecoming and football games USU alumni attend don’t exist in Europe. Peterson said students who attend American universities have a stronger connection to their alma mater.
“All of the alumni still care for their school,” Peterson said. “They’ll go cheer on teams. When you are done with your university in Europe you don’t have any connection to your school. No sports, nothing.”
The students in American universities, and especially at Utah State, have a life-long commitment to their school.
“They might like their school during the time they’re studying, but they don’t have any reason to go back except to see the facilities,” Peterson said. “There’s nothing going on, no sports, no big events.”
“You have people that are cheering for you,” Poslusny said. “People come from all over the place. Parents from Salt Lake come to watch their kids play and that’s an hour and a half away. That wouldn’t happen in Germany unless it was a really big thing, definitely not for high school or some college.”
Coming to the United States for college allowed these athletes to have an experience unlike any other.
“There’s nowhere else where this opportunity exists,” Peterson said. “I don’t know any other country that has the sport as a part of the school.”
Poslusny advises other athletes out of the country to do exactly what he, Peterson and Turner did.
“I think it’s the best idea,” Poslusny said. “If you want to study and keep on playing, it’s the best idea. Since no other country in the world has it, it is the best thing.”