International student-athletes from around the world bring their talents to Boise State

Boise State University Athletics, Men’s Tennis vs Seattle University and North Dakota, BOAS Tennis Complex, Doubles and Singles Matches, Spring Sports 2021-2022, 2.06.2022
Photo courtesy of Boise State Athletics

Leaving home to go to college is hard enough as it is, but leaving your country entirely is a whole different story. Many athletes at Boise State have made the sacrifice of leaving their normal lives in their home country to continue their athletic career while also receiving an education.

Abroad, playing a sport competitively while going to school or university is uncommon. Junior cross country runner Maxine Paholek from Victoria, Australia, said this was one of the biggest reasons why she decided to come to the United States.

“We don’t have anything like this at home,” Paholek said. “There’s athletics or university. You have to pick one or the other.”

For senior tennis player Simon Arca Costas, who came to Boise State from Vigo, Spain, his reasoning to come to America was very similar to that of Paholek’s.

Boise State University Athletics, Men’s Tennis vs Seattle University and North Dakota, BOAS Tennis Complex, Doubles and Singles Matches, Spring Sports 2021-2022, 2.06.2022
[Boise State men’s tennis player Simon Arca Costa in a match vs Seattle University in February 2022.]
Photo courtesy of Boise State Athletics

“In Spain, you either pick your sport or go to college, but I wanted to do both, so I came to America,” Arca Costas said.

These athletes made the difficult decision to come to the United States to not only pursue their dreams of playing in collegiate sports, but also further their education at the same time. The only question now is, what led them to Boise State?

For the most part, recruiting is the same here in America as it is abroad. Athletes research schools they might be potentially interested in, get into contact with their coach, come out for a visit if they are interested and if they like the school, hope to land a scholarship.  

Paholek and Arca Costas both knew at an early age that they wanted to go to America and continue their dream while still getting an education, so they got to work, looking for that perfect school.

“At 15 years old is when I decided I wanted to come to America,” Paholek said. “I started to get recruited my last two years of high school, so my dad and I began to reach out to coaches and do our research. Eventually, we found Boise State.”

For Arca Costas, his experience was similar. He did his research, found Boise State, and reached out to the tennis team’s coach.

“After coach contacted me, I came out for a visit and fell in love with Boise,” Arca Costas said. “I knew I wanted to come here.”

The recruiting aspect for these international athletes is not so different from those athletes in America, looking to continue their careers into college, except for a couple extra miles in between for Arca Costas and Paholek. 

But, even though they are playing the same sport that they played back home, the dynamic of the sport itself can slightly change.

“Back home, tennis is definitely more of an individual sport,” Arca Costas said.  “Yes, you’re on a team, but you’re really only playing for yourself.”

For Paholek, it wasn’t necessarily the team aspect that was different, but more of the recognition of cross country.

“The major sport back home is Australian Football, so cross country was not as big of a thing as it is here,” Paholek said.  

But, as she has come to learn, every sport has a place in America. 

“Being able to do both school and cross country at once is incredible.  Running with a team in the states, while also getting a degree, is just something I couldn’t pass up.”

Other than the distance and lifestyle changes from playing and studying abroad, Arca Costas  and Paholek have excelled in their time here at Boise State and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

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