Students playing sports at the college level are devoted to athleticism. So much so that many travel thousands of miles to attend Queens and keep playing.
Ten percent of the 320 Queens Royals are international students. Sophomore swimmer Madeleine Wallmon is from Stockholm, Sweden. "Before graduating high school I knew I wanted to pursue a higher education and continue my swim career. Thus, I started looking at schools in the US," she said. She researched online, then decided to trust her intuition and come to Queens without ever having stepped foot on the campus.
"The greatest thing about swimming at Queens is the team itself," the sports communication major said. "Through all the hard and early practices we have created a special bond and friendships for life. My team is what makes me get through not only tough practices, but hard classes, studying and any other issues as well."
Soccer player Thiago Andrade was drawn to Queens because he already knew another Brazilian on the team. He transferred from a Kentucky university after Felipe Netto introduced him to coach Oliver Carias '05, a former international recruit from Guatemala. Andrade enjoys being coached by a fellow South American.
Sharing an apartment with two other Brazilians (Netto and tennis player Gustavo Munhoz) makes the business major "feel better about the distance." Andrade said, "we feel as if we were at home."
Recruiting internationally is challenging, conceded tennis head coach Brett Karpman '06, The former tennis recruit from Montreal, Canada, estimates he gets 50 emails daily from potential international students. Finding the right players is "a lot of work, but when it comes to this level of tennis that's what it takes. There is no alternative."
The potential students must show integrity and academic promise too, he said. That's netted the men's team the school's GPA award - Top Team GPA of all 19 teams - for the last three seasons.
One of Karpman's female players is fellow Canadian Christina Rustscheff, a native of Toronto, Canada. The junior biochemistry major said the biggest draw was "being part of the building process to contend for a National Championship."
Studying so far from home can be tough, she said. "The hardest part I think is not being able to go home whenever you want to." However, her "teammates are like family," she said. "Playing tennis for Queens has given me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and make lasting connections with them."