Many students overseas dream of setting their feet on American soil in pursuit of a brighter future and a quality education.
Jack Bennet, a 20-year-old soccer player from London, England, was presented with the opportunity to become a part of the athletics program at Tyler Junior College.
“I’ve lived in Rurislip all my life, being brought up around soccer, as we know football. My family had good values and the citizens were really respectful to one another. There was still a longing inside me for an even better life. It was my dream to attend an American school, being able to do what I love, and now, here I am,” Bennet said. “My family wanted this for me, and I wanted this for myself. ”
International students in pursuit of higher education and recruitment typically are assigned agents from an athletic placement company in their area or from an agency that deals with foreign students worldwide. Soccer Icon was where Bennet found placement opportunities leading to his admission to TJC. He was fortunate to have been chosen while others were not as successful.
“The program encouraged me to develop my skills, get good life experience and a solid degree,” Bennet said. “I was recruited to attend a soccer trial [tryout] where my agent provided me with information on different schools, in which TJC caught my eye.”
Bennet said that Joe Mcglaughion, an agent for Soccer Icon, assisted him, making step-by-step decisions regarding education opportunities and benefits to find the right college that best fit- ted Bennet’s needs.
“I was lucky to have been given this chance and the support associated with Icon’s athlete placement company,” Bennet said. “It was a really big help.”
Soccer isn’t the only sport at TJC that has a variety of inter- national athletes. The golf and tennis teams are known for their outstanding players and Division I championships.
Athletic Director Tim Drain explained how students who travel from overseas to TJC’s sports departments become great additions to TJC teams.
“We can learn a lot from international players. There’s more to the game than just winning and there’s more to school than just books,” Drain said. “There’s lessons you learn about socialization and diversity that help you as an individual and the foreign players in regards to feeling welcomed.”
Drain emphasized how much success TJC has seen throughout the years and he expects nothing less from future athletes.
“The accomplishments and steps international students are making while attending our college is pleasantly overwhelming. I’m seeing them working harder than ever, keeping a grasp on their grades and the game,” Drain said. “It seems a lot of the time our foreign students can be our best.”
Chris Handy, assistant soccer coach, said coaches take pride in the success and progress the students make at TJC. It’s the athletic department’s goal to make a difference on the field, but also in students lives.
“We want all of our students to leave here more responsible, mature, but ultimately better athletes,” Handy said. “I will say, they have many different paths to choose, but if they put enough work into it, they can do anything they want, stepping into their role as champions.” Bennet reflects upon his reason for being here, sorting through emotions from the transition, reminding himself of what’s most important.
“I came here to be successful and to try my hardest,” Bennet said. “It was hard to leave my friends and family behind, but they were all telling me to take advantage of the opportunity, and it’s a choice I’d gladly make again.”