Athletes Abroad


Photo of Men’s Tennis team. Courtesy of Coach Rebecca Helt.

Sydney Stokes

Photo of Rebecca Helt, Head Tennis Coach. Courtesy of

The capacity to unite student-athletes from many locations and backgrounds to form one team that strives to achieve a single shared objective is one feature that distinguishes collegiate athletics.

Bloomsburg University men’s and women’s Tennis team is a strong example of this situation. Of the 23 student athletes from both squads, 12 are international student athletes and four more will be joining them next season.

Both the men and women teams have such diversity with athletes who come from all across the world, ranging throughout seven different countries including U.S. student-athletes.

  • Oliver Weisemann – Germany
  • Albert Martin – Spain
  • Iu Casamitjana – Spain
  • Victor Martinez Spain
  • Arnav Sharma – India
  • Chaitanya Choudhary – India
  • Vishesh Patel – India
  • Scott Redmond – Bermuda
  • Fernando Barros – Brazil
  • Vinicius Moura – Brazil
  • Luana Bernarid – Brazil
  • Jenifer McDonald – Australia

Head coach Rebecca Helt has been with Bloomsburg University’s tennis program for four years, following her time at Bucknell where she served as the Head Women’s Tennis coach for a 22-year stint. At Bucknell, Helt is the all time-winningest coach in the program’s history.

While international athletes have been participating with BU’s tennis program for many years, Helt managed to bring in the most players from across the world during her time here.

Since most of the Tennis team athletes aren’t within reasonable or timely travel distance, recruitment looks much different. “Sometimes international students contact me directly via email or phone, but most often I work through College Placement Agencies,” Helt said.

Photo of Jen McDonald. Courtesy of

College placement Agencies are where student recruiting organizations enter the picture and take control of the university admissions procedure. These organizations aid in the application screening process, assist students in meeting admission requirements, provide them with counseling, and assist them in traveling to their final destination.

“They learn from me what our needs are in terms of number of recruits, skill level {etc.} and what our academic parameters are,” Helt said. “There are agencies all over the world working with athletes who are trying to find the right athletic and academic fit.  Once we narrow down some specifics, I have a video call with the recruit.  I also get to see them play either by Live-Stream matches/tournaments or video.”

Freshman Jenifer McDonald always knew she wanted to come from Australia to continue her Tennis career. “Starting high school, I knew I wanted to play college tennis and in Pennsylvania since it is close enough to family I have in the US yet, far enough that the experience would be very much of my own. It gave me the opportunity to study that I wanted to as well as play tennis at a ratio of 50/50, rather than 80 School/20 tennis which is what it would have been in Australia,” McDonald said.

“I have also been given the opportunity to learn new life skills and lessons from studying abroad that I never would have learned if I had stayed home. After speaking with Coach Helt, I knew straight away I was going to be attending Bloomsburg. Although it has definitely been a challenging process so far, my experience is only just starting.”

Photo of Albert Martin. Courtesy of

Other challenges international athletes may face when studying in the U.S. is a language, or rule barrier while playing their sport of choice; however, many of BU’s international students are proficient in English.

“My American teammates and I have no problems conversing and training together,” McDonald continued. “I think it’s more of a word difference, with regards to how some phrases are used differently in Australia. It’s quite humorous sometimes when I say a phrase that’s very common in Australia, but my teammates give me a puzzled look”

Men’s teammate, Albert Martin who is from Spain, agreed with McDonald’s statement about the language barrier. “I already had good English so communication was not really an issue,” he said.

Similarly, Martin’s experience has been challenging yet everything he wanted. “I came to Bloomsburg so I could have a new experience,” Martin said. “I just wanted to learn better English and also have a great experience. I love tennis so really, it was the perfect combination to try.”

Along with Tennis, Bloomsburg Men’s soccer team is known to have multiple international athletes from across the world. This past season, the men’s soccer team had three international athletes from England.