|Lakin worked study abroad into her sports schedule.
Volleyball player Ashley Lakin ’06 did it twice. Runner Evan Sparling ’08 will do it next year. Basketball player Matthew Keys ’06 decided not to do it. When a student-athlete has to choose whether or not to study abroad, it’s about prioritizing.
Lakin, an American-studies major, scheduled her studies abroad around the volleyball season, which she was unwilling to miss.
She spent the spring of her sophomore year at Xavier University in New Orleans through the Crossing Borders program and the spring of her junior year at the University of Queensland in Australia.
“At both schools I tried out and made their competitive travel teams, which helped me to stay in shape and also was critical in making friends,” she says.
Sparling is a varsity cross-country and track-and-field runner. But more than that, he is a Russian-area-studies major who hopes to work in the former Soviet Union after graduation. He will spend the 2006-07 academic year in Moscow to “gain valuable experience and an advantage when applying for jobs.
“I will miss three seasons of competition,” he continues. “This complicated my decision to study abroad, because I didn’t want to disappoint my teammates. Cross country is more of a team sport than most people realize, and by leaving I am putting the team at a disadvantage.”
But Sparling knew that this was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. He sat down with Don Nichter, head cross-country coach, to talk about his scholastic and career ambitions.
“Coach Nichter was supportive but, I think, also a little disappointed. He would like to see me develop as a runner,” Sparling explains.
Sparling will join a team in Moscow, if possible, but either way he plans to stay in shape with regular training runs, cross-country skiing, weight lifting and swimming.
For Keys, an international business & management major, basketball won out over the opportunity to go abroad. “The basketball season spans two semesters,” he says. “I didn’t want to leave my teammates on their own. I only have so much time left to play basketball competitively.”
With more than 40 programs on six continents in 24 countries, more student-athletes have to make the difficult decision of whether to stay or go. And since Dickinsonians are students first and athletes second, the coaches are understanding.
Dina Henry, women’s basketball coach, says, “I studied abroad for a summer while at Franklin & Marshall College, so I definitely value that experience. If anyone from the team wants to study abroad, I support that.”
On the other hand, more international students are attending Dickinson, bringing with them a variety of athletic abilities. In the fall, Elitsa Gosheva ’10 of Bulgaria will join the women’s volleyball team.
Head Coach Carli Dale is enthusiastic about the addition. “Elitsa sent me a film of her playing, as I request of all recruits whom I cannot see in person. I feel that she will contribute well to our team.”
While this is Dale’s first experience working with an international student, she foresees the benefits it will bring for herself and her players. “I hope that we will be able to learn a lot from her, in addition to her learning from us. I am anxious to see what skills and knowledge Elitsa will bring to our gym.”