NIU athletes travel from far and wide to get to DeKalb

By Katie Leb

While many NIU athletes have grown up in Illinois, not every player call this state home. In fact, Huskie athletes come from as far as Kericho, Kenya.

Sophomore cross country runner Nancy Maritim traveled over 8,000 miles to be a student athlete at NIU. Since she was a child, she had the dream to attend college in another country. When she learned that universities in the United States recruited students to run, her dream came true.

After one year, she has been adjusting to culture, school and running at the collegiate level.

“When I first came here, one of the most challenging things was food,” Maritim said. “I remember my first dinner in Neptune cafeteria: I ate two pieces of bread and a glass of milk. That was the food I was sure of, and I thank God I didn’t take long to catch up.”

Maritim is just one of more than a handful of international athletes calling themselves Huskies. This year men’s and women’s soccer each added members from across the Atlantic in the countries of Norway, Germany, Scotland and England.

Also, women’s tennis added a player from Mexico, while men’s tennis has a new athlete from Ukraine.

Freshman goalkeeper Amy Carr joined the women’s soccer team this season from Hemel Hempstead, England. Though her sport may be known as football where she comes from, Carr said she is thankful to be speaking the same language as Americans.

“I’m at an advantage over the other internationals being able to speak English,” Carr said. “All the girls are trying to perfect their English accent, but it isn’t going too well for them.”

Her teammates’ help has been beneficial when Carr began taking classes, while trying to be a student athlete at the same time.

“I’m not used to trying to juggle [school and soccer] and trying to keep a healthy balance between the two,” Carr said. “The girls have helped me out more than anybody trying to help me focus on what I need to do in the classroom and then switch my concentrations to training.”

Maritim echoed what Carr said, adding that coaches and other staff members have helped her adjust to the demands of the sport, school and way of life in America.

But, both Maritim and Carr said the DeKalb weather is something that takes more time adjusting to. When Carr arrived on campus in early August, she said it was the hottest week she has seen and needed to adjust to playing in the high temperatures. But for Maritim, it is the cold weather that takes warming up to.

“I thought I was not going to make it at the beginning of the winter,” Maritim said of her first winter in the United States. “Even though it was not that cold to you Americans at the beginning, I had a sweatshirt and a winter jacket on. I know some of the students might have recognized I might be from a different country.”