Sports snag international students

By Mike Hantho, Staff Writer

Eastern Washington University is the host to many international student-athletes who have come a long way from home to be a part of our sports programs.

In recent years a small group of students have come to Eastern from around the world seeking a better education through sports.

Melissa Waelter, from Arnsberg, Germany, is a senior volleyball player majoring in psychology. Waelter said that her time here in America has been great and that it is great to see a group of people who love sports so much.

“I love it here,” said Waelter. “I have spent two years in Alabama and loved it down there too, but it is a lot different than up here. I love both areas, both schools, and I love how the sport is such a huge deal in America. It is different here than it is back home, as you don’t invest as much into the athletes. It’s nice to get supported.”

Waelter also commented on how it is great to see different cultures playing volleyball.

“I really like how much energy and money is put into sports,” said Waelter. “Here, volleyball is played faster and more focused on defense, while back home it is slower and more focused on technique.”

Felix Von Hofe, a junior playing basketball and majoring in marketing, hails from Melvin, Australia.

“It is a family atmosphere, both on the team and on campus. There are no outsiders on the team, which will help our team a lot this year,” said Hofe. “The transition was tough. As time went on, we started to settle and call this place home.”

Hofe also commented on his perspective of America after settling in and living here for a few years.

“The greatest culture shock was the up tempo pace of life over here as opposed to back home,” said Hofe. “Here it is work oriented …  which also reflects the way college basketball works.”

Milica Nisavic, a native of Novi Sad, Serbia, is a redshirt junior playing volleyball, transferred last year from Casper College in Wyoming and is majoring in communications. Nisavic commented that her time here in America has also been great, but not without some hard times.

“I really had a hard time when I came here,” said Nisavic. “I was really close to giving up and go back to my family because I missed them, but since I’m getting older and have been here for four years I’m used to it.”

For many who have come to EWU, including both international and domestic students, there have been sacrifices.

“[Coming to America was ] the best decision I’ve ever made, and I would do it again,” said Waelter.  “It was the best time and the worst time of my life, and that I met so many people, and it has also let me get closer to my family on the other side of the globe.”