Can you practice multiple sports in college?
Teja Barkmann suffered from pronounced wanderlust. After completing high school and community service, the 23-year-old completed an apprenticeship as a banker in his hometown of Wanne-Eickel and wanted to leave as soon as possible, preferably to study in the USA.
Just how to do it, Teja didn't really know. Because it quickly became clear: Teja's parents would not be able to pay for flights, fees and maintenance for studying abroad - after all, his two older siblings were also studying. And Teja's academic achievements were good, but not so outstanding that he would have had a chance of a high-flyer scholarship. So Teja remembered his athletic qualities.
Two-week football camp in Florida
He played soccer in the association league at SF Oestrich in Sauerland and hoped that he might be able to do something with it. On the Internet he came across the website of the German agency Sport-Scholarships, which establishes contacts between young German athletes and American college coaches. Teja called immediately. After submitting a compelling athletic and academic résumé, Sports Scholarships Director Philipp Liedgens suggested that he enroll in a two-week football camp in Florida that would be attended by several coaches from American university teams.
A good tip: Teja received various offers from American college teams right away. In the end, he decided on Berry College in Georgia, a very good private university in the southern United States with the third best American soccer college team. Teja is now in her fifth semester of studying business with a focus on finance and plays soccer for the university - supported by a full scholarship that covers fees, accommodation and meals.
Studying abroad, getting a lot of money for it and being able to pursue your sport intensively - nothing better can actually happen to an ambitious athlete. Teja's story is by no means an isolated case. Philipp Liedgens places around 80 young Germans in the USA or Canada every year. There the college teams are - unlike here - important figureheads for the universities and have generous budgets with the help of which professional coaches and particularly talented athletes are paid.
American universities kiss good German players, especially when they play sports in which Americans are traditionally weak. The prerequisite, however, is that the Germans have already passed the Abitur and passed several language tests at the start of their studies. A total of 29 sports can be supported by sports scholarships, but Liedgens primarily arranges soccer players, volleyball players, track and field athletes, swimmers and tennis players. "As a footballer you should play at least at regional league level, in the tennis association league," says Liedgens. "When it comes to basketball, you should be ready for the Bundesliga. The Americans are too good at that."
It is easier for women than men to get scholarships. "For one thing, the level of competition at universities is not quite as high for women as it is for men," explains Liedgens. "And on the other hand, there is an equal rights regulation, according to which just as many women have to be promoted as men. And since there are not as many women athletes as athletes, the chances for girls are correspondingly better." The sports scholarship holders study regularly, but also train in the college team and present their university at university competitions.
For the 21-year-old Alexandra Meuter from Rottenburg am Neckar, the sports scholarship was above all a practicable opportunity to go abroad for a year after graduating from high school. The volleyball player last played in Germany in the second Bundesliga and the Baden-Württemberg selection. Her teammates gave her the idea of trying a sports scholarship. "I had already thought about other options such as au pair, voluntary social year or work and travel," she says. "But I was really excited about the idea of applying for an athletic scholarship. I was curious about American college life and loved the idea of funding my year abroad by playing volleyball." One can think of that.
The Sport-Scholarships agency assessed their chances as good and shot a training video about them, which was sent to various colleges. Alexandra finally decided on the four-year full scholarship offer from California State University in Los Angeles and took up nursing there with the aim of taking up medicine in Germany after a year abroad.
On the next page: What agencies ask for the placement of talented athletes in the USA.
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