Of the nine members on CSU’s men’s golfing team, three of them hail from Europe, including two from Scotland.
They are not the only Ram team to have international athletes. CSU is home to foreign-born tennis players, swimmers, cross-country runners and female golfers. These athletes contribute not only on the playing field, but also to the diversity that makes up the university.
International athletes have not only adjusted to living and playing in America, they have thrived in it.
Kevin McAlpine, the pride of Blairgowrie, Scotland, has been named to the All-Mountain West team during his four-year career in Fort Collins. Canadian swimmer Chandra Engs was named to the All-Mountain West second team for her efforts in the 200-meter individual medley.
However, the most successful current international athlete comes all the way from Hadsund, Denmark. Anne Andersen made the 4,900-mile trek from her native land and has found a home away from home on CSU’s tennis courts.
All Andersen has done in her two years at CSU is rewrite the record book. In her inaugural season, she set the freshman record for winning percentage. In her just-completed sophomore season, Andersen combined with Oregon native Emily Kirchem to set the team record for most victories by a doubles team and named first team all-conference.
Some may argue that these athletes only thrive because they are competing in individual sports. I, however, disagree with this assumption. As Andersen and Kirchem have proved, it doesn’t matter what country an athlete is from, it matters how good of an athlete you are.
One needs to look no further than this year’s NCAA Final Four to find international thriving in American team sports. Frenchman Joakim Noah led the Florida Gators to their first men’s basketball title, while Luc Richard Mbah a Moute helped UCLA earn its first finals appearance in 11 years. Mbah a Moute is likely to be the second native of Cameroon to play in the NBA – the first was Ruben Boumtje Boumtje.
Adding an international player might give Dale Layer and Jenn Warden some needed help to their basketball teams. One of CSU’s most famous basketball alumni, Milt Palacio, has foreign flair. The son of Belizean immigrants, Palacio has played seven seasons in the NBA.
Whether or not international athletes are a key to winning championships is debatable. However, when athletes leave their native lands and come to CSU, they have proven that they win. And that is something almost every CSU team needs to do a little more.
Mike Donovan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.