DWU home to nine international athletes
From the neighbor in the great-white north to the sun-scorched desert of the Middle East, international athletes are finding a home at Dakota Wesleyan University.
There are nine international student athletes enrolled at DWU and playing for the Tigers this year.
Most of these athletes have come through pipelines the coaching staffs have at camps in the United States and with club teams abroad, while others are from exchange programs.
“Once a coach gets one player from an area, there seems to be a tendency to go back to that area for talent,” DWU athletic director Curt Hart said. “Our coaches attend camps with these students and build relationships through them.”
Students from other countries wishing to enroll and play sports at DWU have additional hoops to jump through. Each athlete must obtain a visa to be able to go to school in the U.S.
Students, in most cases, must submit official academic records using the Educational Credentials Evaluators to allow a grade point average to be calculated. If necessary, students may have to score a minimum percentage on the Test of English as Foreign Language. The family of the student must fill out financial responsibility information and the student has to take a physical for DWU’s records.
After completion of the required paperwork, athletes from other countries are able to show their talent to Tiger teams.
Starring for the Tiger women’s soccer team is Thara Ali Said of Muscat, Oman. Through 12 games, the junior leads DWU with nine goals and three assists. She also has twice as many shots on goal as any other Tiger with 32.
Ali Said came to DWU after meeting women’s coach Dale Roden at a summer training camp in Texas prior to her freshman year. Since then, her explosive style has added another dimension to the Tiger offense.
“I knew I wanted to play soccer in college, and I wanted to come to the States because I knew this is where women’s soccer would be taken the most serious,” Ali Said said.
Ali Said’s distance from home is longer than any other Tiger at 7,562 miles. She does make it back to Oman during the winter and summer breaks.
“The weather is the biggest difference from home,” Ali Said said. “I had to learn to suck it up and buy warmer clothes.”
The DWU women’s softball team has been able to mine the Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, region for talent. Coach Ed Kieff has established a relationship with coaches and players in that area through summer tournaments he attends each year.
Senior Jill Dickson, junior Danielle Klassen, sophomore Hailey Unger and freshman Lorissa Loeppky are all expected to play significant roles for the Tigers softball team this spring.
“They are very important to the team and will be a big part of it,” Kieff said about the impact of his Canadian quartet.
Men’s soccer coach Jeremy Tosaya has also shown an international recruiting touch. Gerard Walsh, an exchange student from the Republic of Ireland, and Adhemar Lino Cortez, of Bolivia, have found a home in Mitchell and with Tiger soccer.
Despite the recent addition of the Pepsi-Cola Soccer Complex in Mitchell, the men’s soccer team does not sport a local athlete.
“There are 35 high school programs in the state and really only two college programs that recruit local talent. A player has to be pretty special to get recruited,” DWU men’s soccer coach Jeremy Tosaya said, adding that he looks each year for talent in Mitchell and tries to recruit the area as much as he can.
DWU baseball’s Steven Sommerville, of Canada, and men’s golf team’s Elliot Banks, of England, round out the list of international athletes for the Tigers.
The number of international Tiger athletes for 2013-14 fits the school’s trend. DWU typically has three to 12 athletes from other countries, according to Hart.
DWU International athletes
Following is a list of the nine international athletes at Dakota Wesleyan University in alphabetical order. Listed are the athlete, year, sport and place of birth.
- Thara Ali Said, junior, women’s soccer, Muscat, Oman
- Elliott Banks, freshman, men’s golf, East Sussex, England
- Adhemar Lino Cortez, junior, men’s soccer, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
- Gerard Walsh, junior, men’s soccer, Republic of Ireland
- Jill Dickson, senior, softball, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
- Danielle Klassen, junior, softball, Niverville, Manitoba, Canada
- Lorissa Loeppky, freshman, softball, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
- Steven Sommerville, freshman, baseball, Ajax, Ontario, Canada
- Hailey Unger, soph., softball, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada