Go Green! International students adjust fine to Phoenix program

Phoenix athlete David ProchazkaFor those raised in the Midwest, scraping frost off your windshield becomes second nature this time of year and layers become your new best friends until spring. It is bound to be tough on those who have never experienced the cold-weather challenges that Wisconsin is known for.

Still, a number of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay international student-athletes have sacrificed the comforts of home — in some cases a tropical climate — for scholarships and the chance to compete as Division I athletes, or simply for the love of a game.

Lucas Kemmesies

Lucas Kemmesies

For Phoenix athletes David Prochazka (photo above), Jason Askew and Lucas Kemmesies, opportunities to attend college along with good relationships with their prospective coaches were determining factors in their decisions to attend UW-Green Bay.

“Coach Poitras seemed to be an ambitious and driven man who was building a good soccer program, which he has accomplished well,” says Prochazka, a junior on the Phoenix soccer team, from Gothenburg, Sweden. “He offered me a good scholarship, so I decided to come.”

For Askew, a swimmer, it’s more about the opportunity.

“We don’t have any college sports in South Africa so that makes a huge difference,” said the junior from Durban, who would have seen his swimming career come to a close had he not taken the chance to compete in the United States.

“UWGB was the first scholarship offer I received, and I really liked the coach from when I had spoken to him on the phone, Askew said. “Going to school where the winters were incredibly cold was something different and I decided to go for it.”

Kemmesies, a freshman on the soccer team, from Germany, likes the competitive nature of sports in the United States.

“I guess the biggest difference between here and Germany is that there is a big emphasis put on sports in college, and I really love that,” he said.

Francois Basty

Francois Basty

Not all the international athletes were excited about the Wisconsin winters.

“The weather is killing me,” says Francois Basty, a senior on the soccer team, from Beauzelle, France, located in far southern France near the border with Spain. “But I am glad to be part of my soccer team. It keeps me going every day.”

(Basty didn’t let the 35-degree weather bother him on the evening of Oct. 14, when he scored the winning goal late in UW-Green Bay’s 1-0 victory over the rival Wisconsin Badgers.)

Prochazka, from Sweden, said getting used to the difference in food takes a little time, as well: “The food culture is much different. I’m not into fast food at all. We are more into cooking from scratch.”

For the most part, the students say they have adjusted well at UW-Green Bay with the help of those around them.

“I’ve adjusted pretty well due to the staff and professors being very kind and accommodating,” says Deverne Wallace, a senior on the soccer team from Trinidad and Tobago.

“The people are really friendly and the general atmosphere around campus is great,” adds Askew. “The faculty is also very helpful, especially when dealing with international students.”

While the weather, the language barriers and the different culture may take some getting used to, the international students are finding out that the UW-Green Bay experience is worth it.

— Story by Lauren Muench, editorial intern, Office of Marketing and University Communication

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