Lacrosse The World
The chance to play a collegiate sport and the opportunity to study abroad do not often simultaneously appear in one’s undergrad career. Due to a full-time commitment to their sport, many athletes forgo the opportunity to study in a foreign country while they are in college. It is understandable that studying abroad would take a back seat if you are a scholarship athlete and your team plays year round. Even if you have the desire, your coach may not give you the option of missing part of preseason.
As a former D1 athlete and study abroad alum, I can say I am lucky and grateful to have had the opportunity to do both. Playing lacrosse and studying in a foreign country shaped my college career in aspects that will stay with me throughout my whole life. I wouldn’t give up either experience for the world, and I’d encourage anyone interested in studying abroad to find a way to make it happen. It might change your life.
Learn. Play. Travel. Serve.
Today I’d like to showcase an organization called Global Players (GP) Student Athlete Exchange. Two former college lacrosse players founded the organization, and now they’re working hard to offer study abroad programs tailored to student athletes.
Global Players was founded by Tara Michael and Jess Thornton. These women and this organization are doing awesome things for lacrosse all over the world. Currently, Global Players offers student athletes of any level (D1 to intramural) the chance to live and train in Prague, Amsterdam, and Guatemala. GP is built on the Four Pillars of Learn. Play. Travel. Serve. They offer the opportunity to not only live and learn in a new country and culture, but also play the game you love and give back to the local communities by sharing your sport and experiences.
I recently had the chance to talk with Tara and Jess about their organization and what lacrosse and travel mean to them. For Tara, the idea of studying abroad only crossed her mind when she was dealing with a knee injury. She decided to take her months of rehab to South Africa for a semester, and it changed her outlook on the future. For Jess, traveling to tournaments around the world allowed lacrosse to become a vehicle for different cultural and life experiences.
Traveling eventually led them both to build bridges between lacrosse abroad and at home. Between this dynamic duo and the many GP alumni, connections and growth have been created for the sport throughout Europe and Guatemala.
Go do it!
To play lacrosse, or any sport, on a global level promotes diversity and cohesion. New friendships are formed and cultural barriers are broken.
The lacrosse community is widespread around the globe, but it is tight-knit enough that players can create and maintain relationships with teammates and coaches no matter their location. Organizations like Global Players are focused in academics but tailored to students who want to train, play, and grow their sport in the international community.
With over 150 alumni in its short time of existence, Global Players programs are offered to athletes of any sport. Lacrosse players have the opportunity to play on teams in their host country and participate in tournaments during their stay. The new Guatemala program offers a service opportunity to give back to the country through their partnership with Manos Amigas. Along with their study abroad program, GP offers internship and coaching opportunities as well. All the information is available on their website.
My Final Plea
If you are a student athlete and interested in studying abroad, I recommend checking out the GP programs (there is no harm in looking!). The application deadline for their Summer programs is March 15th, click here to learn how to apply, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter for more news and information.
This organization not only does their part to Grow The Game, they strive to create a movement that serves the lacrosse community on a global level. Lacrosse is special in the fact that it’s unique, it’s growing rapidly and it changes lives everyday. What a great opportunity to serve your sport and fill that drive to explore the world.
As a washed up lacrosse player with an unrelenting travel bug, I feel obliged to share these amazing opportunities. So I am telling you, your parents, your kids, your friends, whoever, to never let your sport hold you back from seeing the world and seeking travel opportunities. Instead, use our sport as a vehicle to get you there – you never know what you’ll learn. So go on and Explore. Dream. Discover.
Photos Courtesy of Global Players Facebook Page