International players bring the world to CSUN

Alexis Martinez, Reporter

CSUN is home to many international college athletes, with 34 Matadors representing 23 countries. These athletes from around the world add a fresh perspective to the sports they play.

CSUN has plenty of diversity in its collegiate sports programs. Ten of the 13 teams who have made public their 2022-2023 rosters include at least one player from a country outside the United States.

The men’s soccer team alone has nine players from eight different countries. Furthermore, the men’s and women’s golf teams have seven global athletes in total, while the women’s tennis team has five international members.

Participating in systems like European club soccer gives international players experience to make them more versatile. Some international players infuse their mix of tactics and knowledge into the game.

“They bring a little bit of different playing styles,” CSUN women’s tennis coach Gary Victor said. “Some of them have grown up on clay courts, so they’re used to developing points a little bit more on a slower surface where they have to use their spins and control a little bit more.”

CSUN has 34 international players from 23 different countries — 19 players from Europe, four from Africa, four from Asia, three from Oceania, and four from Canada and Mexico, according to available rosters on Nov. 23, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. (Edward Segal)

CSUN men’s soccer defender Michael Mullins, a graduate student from Australia, has started in 10 games this season and says he brings “a different style and perspective” to the game. Mullins says that the camaraderie of the group has simplified the transition.

“Each nation has its own cultures, and the mix has been something I’ve really enjoyed over my career,” said Mullins. “The lads have made it easy to jump in, and are a great group of blokes.”

Similarly, Norwegian senior Eirik Thomassen says the togetherness of the men’s golf team has made him a better player.

“We all know each other pretty well now, and hang out both on and off the golf course,” said Thomassen. “I am sure we have brought some experience from Europe to the United States, and have definitely learned a lot by playing here.”

With a 70.17 stroke average, Thomassen led the Matadors to seventh-place finishes in the first two tournaments of the season.

Outside of Thomassen, the team has three other international players, all of whom are from Europe.

“It’s a great mix. We have two French, a Norwegian and an Italian,” said CSUN men’s golf coach Jim Bracken. “One of my former players, another French kid, he’s playing internationally right now on [the] Challenge Tour. And he came here and adapted right away, and he was our Big West player of the year.”

In addition to the four Europeans on the golf team, there are plenty more around CSUN athletics, with Europe having the most representatives out of every continent. During this fall season, there are 19 college athletes from Europe.

The other continents with representation include Asia, Africa and North America, each with four players, and Oceania, which has three players at CSUN.

Some of those who have taken the challenge of this new environment have had to learn a new language, acquaint themselves with new surroundings and pick up a new culture — in addition to tackling the hurdles of being a college athlete.

CSUN has 34 international college athletes spread throughout 10 different sports, according to available rosters on Nov. 23, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. (Edward Segal)

“When I got here there was jet lag because it was 14 hours by plane, and also we have a time difference between here and Spain,” CSUN women’s tennis player Emma Moratalla Sanz said. “One of the biggest changes is the food, because it’s very different from Spain. And the hours of the meals are different. But within two weeks, I adapted.”

One of the things that made this transition easier is the metropolitan area.

“It’s easier here because I have everything inside the campus, and I don’t have to go to another place,” Moratalla Sanz said.

The climate also assisted those who play outdoor sports in transitioning to the new environment.

“Obviously the weather is really good,” Thomassen said. “You can play all year. You don’t have to practice indoors during the winter.”

CSUN athletics played a role in helping some players choose from the many Los Angeles-area colleges that offer their sport of choice.

“I chose CSUN because I saw the direction of not only the campus, but also how the coach spoke to us on how the team is going to be,” Moratalla Sanz said. “The [coaches] are strict, but they are not too strict. Like for example, if you have a tournament they are not putting you through doing weights and conditioning the day before the tournament. They are always thinking about us, because we have classes and everything [else].”

Hailing from Spain, Moratalla Sanz went into detail about how she feels playing with athletes from other countries.

“We both need to train a lot, and we feel very equal — at the same level,” Moratalla Sanz said.

The international college athletes have brought more than an array of new faces to campus. They bring specific talents and perspectives to not only the game they play, but also to how they tackle the everyday task of being a CSUN student.