Athletics & Recreation / Magazine Feature

DU’s athletes hail from near and far … and farther still

When alpine skiing head coach Andy LeRoy drives the school van to the mountains, he often hears chatter behind him in up to six languages. 

“It gets pretty interesting,” he says. “I can hear a little German, some French and some Italian.”

LeRoy’s not alone. Other DU coaches can share similar stories because Pioneers athletics is awash in global diversity — from India to Norway to South America to Slovenia and plenty of places in between. In fact, the DU admission office reports the school hosts students from nearly 90 countries. 

Some coaches say all that variety is helping make DU athletics even stronger. 

LeRoy says his athletes learn from each other. “Each athlete brings his own form, experiences and history, and that helps the entire team,” he says.

Tennis is another DU sport filled with diversity. Both the men’s and women’s squads have netted several foreign players. On the men’s side, the roster includes five Europeans, an Indian and a Canadian. The women have student-athletes from Austria, Germany, Indonesia, Norway and Slovenia. 

“I don’t prefer internationals over Americans or Americans over internationals; I’m just trying to find the best players possible,” says Danny Westerman, men’s tennis head coach. “Tennis is now such a global sport, and now the rest of the world has caught up to U.S. players.”

Westerman says European players don’t necessarily practice more than Americans, but they often become “more seasoned” because they get to play on more surfaces and in more countries and therefore see more kinds of players. 

“When you play on different surfaces and play a lot of different players, it can prepare you really well for college-level tennis,” he says. 

Westerman says some are concerned that American students are losing tennis scholarships to foreign students but says there are two sides to the issue. “You can make that argument but I see the sport getting better because of the competition. More college students are now going pro. I think it’s helping the sport get stronger.” 

The international strategy appears to be working in alpine skiing. LeRoy says DU has the most successful program in the history of Division I athletics.

“It’s hard to argue with that,” LeRoy says.

[Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information from the DU admission office.]

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