College sports opens educational opportunities

Elizabeth Duswalt, Staff Writer

Each student has a unique experience at the University, and that experience is shaped by the student’s interests and involvement on campus. Few students have had the chance go to school abroad for four years and also play a varsity sport at the same time. The lone senior of the volleyball team, Kadri Lutter ’15, has been lucky enough to do both.

Lutter, who studies political science, is a native of Estonia and was recruited by the University to play volleyball. She said that playing volleyball at the University level has opened up many unique opportunities for her.

“Getting to play the sport I love is a great opportunity in itself. Playing a competitive sport and being part of a team is an extremely powerful experience and has taught me a lot about myself, other people, and life,” Lutter said. 

In Estonia, like most European countries, college sports are not as well developed as they are in the United States. For Estonian athletes, they must make the decision between going to college and playing less seriously or choosing to play professionally. Lutter decided to do both by going to college in America.

“I will always remember … [traveling] to Los Angeles to watch the U.S. women’s volleyball team practice and talking to the players and the head coach afterwards. Their work ethic and dedication, but perhaps even more their empathy and humbleness, was such an inspiration,” Lutter said.

When she came to school at the University, Lutter had only learned English at a high school level. She faced challenges that native speakers did not while also balancing the full-time job of being a student-athlete. Participating in class was intimidating for Lutter, as she was often the only nonnative speaker in her classes.

“Volleyball is a fall sport, so I got here early for the preseason, and it was definitely nice to have supportive teammates and coaches. But having to miss International Orientation and being the only international student on the team definitely did not make this transition easier. Still, playing Division I volleyball and studying political science in the U.S. was my dream, and although it has been a challenge, I would not trade this experience for anything,” Lutter said.

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