The World is in Their Court!

October 4, 2011
by Justin

Scott, (In a thick Scottish accent) “Hey there, my name is Scott. Pleasure to meet you!”

Caleb, “Hey Scott, nice to meet you, my name is Caleb. You have a distinct accent, where are you from?”

Scott, “ Scotland, I’m a student athlete studying abroad.”

Caleb, “Scott, from Scotland, that’ll be easy to remember.”


One day at The University of New Mexico, I ran into Scott, Simon, and Deon at the college dorms. They were foreign exchange student athletes in Albuquerque, New Mexico spending their semester abroad from The University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Being an athlete myself, I was wondering how they were able to travel during football season. What they let me in on would really open my eyes to the furthering possibilities student athletes benefit from. Scott, and Simon were there supporting the University of New Mexico team, while, U.S. players were sent to Scotland. I was later informed that that was one way of doing it, and that the other ways of travel are still as beneficial and feasible for a student athlete in mid-season.


For student athletes in the world today, their lives are not restricted to the boundaries of a tennis court, or the expanse of a golf course. For many, their playing field is all over the globe. The NCAA has long since promoted student athletes to expand their minds by traveling across the globe, and experience the overseas arenas. According to many college coaches, student athletes who travel abroad have a higher spirit and understanding about camaraderie, and cultural respect, and a deeper insight into the importance of community within the team.


The NCAA has since then received amazing responses from students who have traveled, and walked in the footsteps of other cultures. Furthermore, many students have played abroad, and have even played on the same courts and fields where their sports were birthed. To a former athlete, and great fan of athletics, I am floored by that experience. Traveling to a nation that birthed the sport that you yourself have played since you were a child, and are still playing well into college, is a richly honoring moment that no one could ever steal away from you. It also would look good on your college application, in the “about me” section.


However exciting it might be to travel abroad as a student athlete, you have to do it wisely. First off, you’re a student athlete, and if you plan on going abroad during mid season, that obviously would not work well for your team. However, there are loopholes. For instance, basketball player Collin Jarvis, wanted to travel to South America to become better equipped and seasoned in Spanish, so, right after the championship game, he ended up flying out the very next morning to Argentina. Anything is doable. Former athletes have said that it has been the most rewarding and enriching experience of their lives.


Why is it so enriching? I’m an athlete, why would I be interested in other cultures?

Answer: because other cultures have athletes too; athletes from countries who invented the sport you’re playing, and probably have much more to teach you about your sport.


Also, it’s rewarding.


As my old friend Craig said to me after he just returned from traveling abroad as a student athlete; “Ya gotta go somewhere in this world.”


He was absolutely right. When though?


Well, college coaches recommend that student athletes become acclimated into their college environment before freshly retreating to the misty tundra of Mongolia, or he sun baked landscape of Australia. Also, it helps student athletes to build trust and report with their teammates. Furthermore, if you’re planning on traveling abroad, maybe your teammates want to go to?

Whatever the case may be, it’s good to experience, but there are some etiquette rules all athletes should abide by.


If you plan to travel during mid-season; the consent of the coach is obviously paramount, however, the consent of your teammates is required as well. After all, you are a valuable asset to your team, and having you escape into the misty third world rainforests of Brazil without telling them, might not be the best send off. Just make sure and return with cocoa beans for the whole team. While that was obviously a joke, it’s a good rule of thumb to keep your teammates informed. I mean, you are a team.


Whether you plan to or not, many students have come back abroad and have kept others up to date about their experiences, and their words were nothing but encouraging. According to one NCAA student softball player, Courtney Nussbaumer, she escaped to Madrid, Spain with her teams consent. She reportedly was pensive about how good her Spanish was, when she was taught a word, “disfruta”, which means, “to enjoy”. So she titled her blog “Disfruta”, and kept her teammates up to date with her experiences in Spain. Like Courtney’s teammates, many student athletes are inspired to free themselves from their confines of conformity, and expand their horizons by seeing the rest of the world they play in.


So, if you would like more information on student athlete’s traveling abroad, you can follow me on Facebook, (Caleb Nichols), or check back this week on for the latest updates. Until then, happy travels, and don’t forget the cocoa beans.



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