Foreign Student-Athletes Recognized for Athletic and Academic Achievements

Aug. 15, 2006


Kansas Athletics has been fortunate in having international students see a good deal of both athletic and academic success for a number of years. Recently, the international presence on Kansas Athletics’ rosters has increased significantly.

Including committed recruits, the 2006-07 school year will see 15 of the 18 Kansas teams have foreign student-athletes. This number represents a steady progression of foreign athletes coming to KU to study and participate in intercollegiate athletics, though not a new necessarily a recent trend because women’s tennis had an all-american international student-athlete more than 15 years ago. However, as few as eight years ago, only six of the 14 sports programs at Kansas had international student-athletes and the 2005-06 year saw nine of the 14 programs include foreign players, for a total of 31 individuals, on their rosters. In fact, only one team, softball, has never had an international student-athlete.

The success of foreign-student athletes extends to all branches of the university. In athletics, international student-athletes have won Big 12 Conference Championships with their teams and as individuals. Just last year saw baseball capture the Big 12 Championship with senior Jared Schweitzer, of Sherwood Park, Alberta, and junior Ryotaro Hayakawa, of Narita, Japan. Senior Benson Chesang, of Eldama Ravine, Kenya, became the first Jayhawk to win back-to-back cross country conference championships in more than 40 years. Also, sophomore Egor Agafonov, of Togliatti, Russia, won two individual Big 12 Championships in track and field, claiming the indoor weight throw and outdoor hammer throw. In addition, international student-athletes at Kansas have also gone on to win national championships, as track and field legend and KU Hall of Famer Scott Russell, from Windsor, Ontario, was the 2002 indoor national champion in the weight throw and 2002 outdoor national champion in the javelin.

For their efforts in the classroom and the surrounding communities, international Jayhawks have been recognized as KU Women of Distinction, been awarded Emily Taylor Outstanding Woman Student in Leadership and been named EXCEL finalists for accomplishments in the community service. KU has had four international Academic All-Americans representing three different continents, the most recent being2005-06 volleyball senior Paula Caten of Canarana, Brazil, who maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her collegiate career. Sophomore men’s basketball player Sash Kaun, of Tomsk, Russia, a computer science major, was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team for his performance in the classroom. Also, this past year, former KU track and field athlete Carleen Roberts, of Spanish Town, Jamaica, earned her doctorate in social welfare.

With tremendous courage and effort, these individuals quickly polish their English by taking classes from the KU Applied English Center and assimilate into the fabric of their teams and community. And this dedication has not gone unnoticed, as at the 2005 World at KU Expo, foreign student-athletes were recognized as one of the significant groups of international students at KU. Kansas Athletics is proud of the camaraderie created by the Jayhawks in welcoming these international student-athletes, who have richly contributed to the fabric of the university and its surrounding communities.

– KU –