The COVID-19 Pandemic: Being an International Student-Athlete

By: Kirsten Horney

Over the last few years, there have been 1.1 million international students that have contributed to higher education and the wider U.S. economy. 

Covid-19 has upended the educational landscape for many university and college students around the world. Sudden changes and chronic stress of the pandemic have really taken a toll on students’ mental health. While students around the world may not have been able to participate in organized sports, AC student athletes have been able to play, including international students.

After talking to some international student-athletes I was able to hear some of their thoughts and struggles during these troubled months. Alessio Luciano traveled from Woodbridge, Ontario to join the Men’s NCAA D3 hockey team. “As Covid struck for the first time last year and stripped our chance to play for a national championship, everyone was hit with disbelief,” Luciano stated. “Everyone dispersed back home, the campus was vacant, but my life was filled and accompanied by the most important people in my life, my family. Being able to spend quality time with them was much needed.”. 

Luciano continued, “As the 2020-2021 school year began, Adrian College was able to find a way to get all the students back on campus and attempt to provide students an athletic experience portrayed to be “as normal as possible”. Being 6 hours from home, without a car to travel back and forth and borders being closed, not being able to see my family for months at a time is definitely very hard. Knowing my biggest fan [my father] is stuck at home having to watch our games online, versus watching them in the Arrington arena kills me.”. Luciano lastly stated, “ Luckily, I have a group of teammates that I am able to call family that makes it a lot easier to deal with the repercussions Covid-19 has had on international students not being able to go home for months at a time or having them not be here in Adrian to watch me play.”.  

Reid Bahr, from the Women’s ACHA D1 hockey team, traveled from Okotoks, Alberta, and shared her experience being an International student-athlete during this pandemic. “The uncertainty of this pandemic definitely makes a typical hockey season harder to accomplish.” Bahr commented.  “However, I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to come to school [Adrian College] from Western Canada and actually be able to play hockey in the U.S. right now.” Bahr expressed.  Bahr stated, “We are so fortunate at Adrian College that we have the support of our school, athletic training staff, and coaches behind us during this crazy time. With Adrian being a smaller school, case numbers are next to none which does not hinder our education to where we must be online which is a huge bonus. The safety measures that are being taken and the testing we are doing is all worth it when we get to step on the ice every day. Not a lot of kids are getting to play their sports right now which is heartbreaking as sports are so important for your physical and mental health.”. 

While the “Year of the Pandemic” has been tough, AC has been able to adjust to this new way of playing sports and keeping students in the game. Not only athletically but academically as well. As the pandemic continues, Adrian College continues to adjust cordially through the CDC to continue prioritizing the health of their students and student athletes.  

This pandemic has not been easy for anyone so we should all take part in being kind and supporting one another every day. Tune into Adrian College Television, free and in high definition on YouTube to support and see these talented student athletes in action.

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