International students take on sports


Photo by Hannah Klimas

International senior Bill Huang practices his dribbling during his basketball practice.

Whether you are in Cahill for a basketball game or watching a football game at Forest View, you can see international students participating in athletics. Of the 89 international students, 31 are eligible to participate in athletics.

“The IHSA originally did not have organizations to allow international students to participate in athletics”, said Kuffel, who is the athletic director at Saint Viator. “Recently, though, the IHSA has installed rules and regulations so that certain organizations, such as International Partnership of Education Research and Communication (IPERC) and Milestone Education Group, can be approved by the IHSA.”

Kuffel also spoke on possible restrictions international students may have if they are a part of one of these organizations.

“If a student is a part of one of these organizations, there are no restrictions on playing time or competing in playoff games,” Kuffel said.

“My journey has been full of hard work and determination to become a varsity athlete,” said Bill Huang, a senior international student and a varsity basketball player. “I’ve had to sacrifice a lot to get where I am, but my parents have been very supportive of me throughout it all. I stayed an extra month for the summer basketball camp at Viator, trained twice a day and had faith in myself that I could be a basketball player.”

Huang also spoke on the difficulties and hardships he had to overcome to become a varsity athlete.

“Viator, and America in general, is super competitive in regards to sports,” said Huang. “At times, I would feel hopeless and I never thought that I would ever get a shot to be on the team. But, my love for the game and my determination to succeed propelled me to keep working harder than everyone. I love the atmosphere and the environment around the team, though. Everyone knows their role and wants to be successful. ”

Huang closed by encouraging all international students that if an opportunity presents itself, teenagers should not pass on it. Huang finds that the most important part of being a student-athlete is balancing both extracurriculars and academics, while not getting too caught up in the commotion of sports.

“Everyone is trying to give it their all and trying to get better each day,” said Stephen Shen, a sophomore international student who competes in football and track and field. “We hold each other accountable, which really makes practice run smoothly. The coaches are also all really helpful and supportive, which helped me learn the game quicker. Even when we lost, the environment was mainly positive because we knew we gave it our all.”

“During practice I had a hard time learning the fundamentals,” Shen said. “I was not very good at catching the ball. But, as the season progressed, so did my skills overall. I always had a positive mindset going into practice, and my teammates pushed me to succeed. I also made time outside of practice to work on my skills, which helped me succeed as well.”

“If you have a passion for a sport like me, then you cannot be afraid to try out for the team,” Shen said. “Some students may be hesitant because there may not be any other international students on the team and they believe that they will be lonely. You won’t be! A majority of us already have American friends and if not, sports are a great way to meet new people! High school is short so you need to make the most out of your time here.”

Sports are a fun and pleasurable way to encounter new people. The IHSA allowing international students to compete enhances this experience and allows students that have similar interests to make friendships that will last a lifetime. So, the next time you are at a sporting event, look around, and you will be sure to find an international student in the competition!