BURLINGTON, Vt. — Sini Karjalainen could have played ice hockey closer to home.
It would have been possible for her to stay in Finland where she was raised. Sweden, with its elite women’s league, was a nearby proving ground. Karjalainen was not impressed. the most direct route to her goal — a place on Finland’s Olympic roster — ran through the University of Vermont, located in Vermont.
“It was the easiest,” She said: “the most simple.”
There are many of them. the world’s most athletically gifted women are following similar paths.
the Half-century has passed since Title IX Discrimination is prohibited the Millions of American women are now embracing college sports as a way to have sex at a higher level.
More subtly, though, the Law has made it possible to the United States are an Olympic incubator for women beyond the United States the nation’s borders. Attracted by the Training programs and Facilities made possible through Title IX and Women are often limited by lack of opportunities in their home country, so thousands have participated on American campuses and joined national teams. the world.
At last year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, where Karjalainen won a bronze medal by playing for Finland, every women’s ice hockey team had skaters with some American college experience. And as this year’s college hockey postseason plows ahead — Vermont will host a conference tournament quarterfinal on Saturday — many college teams will send recent Olympians onto the ice.
It is a long story. the same for summer sports: At the Tokyo Games, 2021. At least 75 nations fielded female athletes who have competed at American colleges.
“They’re here because of the opportunities on college teams that were made possible by Title IX, ranging from roster spots to scholarships and other benefits,” Val Ackerman the Big East Conference former leader the W.N.B.A. and U.S.A. Basketball.
N.C.A.A. Data published December 31, the Part of the international student team in Division 1 the association’s most prominent tier, steadily increased until the coronavirus pandemic. But the Association still reporting that more than 3,300 international studentsThe majority of them were women and played for the It was the first time this has happened since 2021. There were 2,720 in 2021, six years before.
“You’re treating them like an elite Olympic athlete so they’re prepared by the time they get to their national team,” said Nadine Muzerall, the women’s ice hockey coach at top-ranked Ohio State, which won last season’s national championship.
“I don’t really care where they come from,” She added: “as long as they’re a good human being and they have talent.”
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A New talent pool
As women’s sports expanded in the United States the Many decades later Title IX was made law by the June 1972. College coaches began to adopt what the The statute didn’t say that the Women who filled rosters needed to be American. Some coaches build teams at schools that are low-profile and have a lack of qualified players. the There was a global talent pool that could make breakthroughs.
“I did it right out of the gate, and the rest is history,” Shannon Miller, the leader of this initiative. Canada To receive a silver award the Before she led Minnesota Duluth’s five N.C. games to 1998 Nagano GamesA.A. women’s ice hockey titles. “A lot of the coaches that I was coaching against really attacked me publicly and personally. They were throwing stones left, right and center that were ridiculous, and it was just sheer jealousy.”
Miller provided something many women elsewhere in the world could not: an opportunity to have a college experience which seamlessly combines higher education and athletic training. and competition. In EuropeParticularly, for athletes and Executives from different countries compete in the same sport. the The next was to lament that the existing system was not supportive but more oppressive. Without American-style college sporting programs that have big coaches and glittering facilities and A culture of ease the Coexistence of courses and Athletic training: Many said that it was nearly impossible to find a balance between education and sports. and To be able earn enough to meet your needs.
American athletes often have more sports options. and Benefits such as scholarships and Meals, but much less control of their times and livelihoods. These restrictions alarmise more people. the Gerichte and Congress is not the only place where they are accepted by many other athletes. the Price the There are many resources available on American campuses.
Even in less prominent sports like women’s ice hockey, there are often platoons of coaches, strength specialists, athletic trainers, nutrition experts and Video analysts in high-class buildings
“If you compare it to Switzerland, we don’t even have that here — not even the professional hockey teams, the best of the best, have facilities like Ohio State,” Andrea Braendli was the one who played for the Buckeyes, before she became the starting Swiss goaltender in Beijing.
“We’re basically still amateurs in the N.C.A.A., but you don’t feel that way,” Braendli has since been enrolled at Boston University as a graduate student.
These European coaches and executives chafe at the exodus. Lena Wallin-Kantzy, one of Swedish basketball’s leading power brokers, recalled how some in her sport had privately floated imposing rules that could limit the Attractiveness of moving to the United States.
“I said: ‘OK, but then we need to come up with better possibilities. They choose to go there because they think they can develop,’” Wallin-Kantzy said. “It’s better to help the kids go to the right place, and then when they come back, they can play for a Swedish club and they can play for the national team and so on.”
Her daughter, however, went to America to play.
A rare opportunity to make a living at home
In any given school year, close to half of first-year women’s ice hockey players come from outside the United According to N.C.A.A. statistics. American universities host thousands more students interested in sports like swimming, basketball, soccer and golf. and Follow and field, and even fencing and bowling.
Top-tier players of ice hockey have drawn attention to America, however. the United States include Canada, is one of women’s hockey’s foremost powers, stirring a talent development network that includes colleges.
“For many young women who are playing in the Czech Republics of the world, they don’t really have a great system once they graduate from high school,” Joel Johnson the University of St. Thomas Coach who was the leader the American silver medal-winning team in Beijing “To this point, there has been no better overall development, for age 18 to 22 or 23, than the U.S. college system.”
Tynka Patkova is a Czech player, who hails from a small village near the She has longed to see her family in Germany since enrolling at Vermont. She said that Burlington had taught her more discipline than the one she could have learned in Germany. Europe. Coaching Europe According to some, players who have had college experience in America often possess similar skills as women who have remained at home. Europe However, their strategic value is not lost. and Sometimes mental toughness was more impressive than physical strength.
“Because of playing here, I was able to train for that long to keep myself in the game and was able to keep getting better,” Patkova spoke. “I would guess I would not make the Olympics without it.”
Natalie Mlynkova at Vermont is another Czech Olympian. Natalie recalled the years she spent hearing former players speak about American colleges. the How to Prepare for the world’s biggest stages.
“I had to get out of the country,” She said: the Tattooed Olympic rings on the arm “You are more experienced, you get mature faster.”
the She skated in 19 Vermont games during the three months prior to Beijing. She was then awarded the title of “Best Skater” in an exhibition against Japan. the first Vermont women’s ice hockey player to score an Olympic goal. Later, in the In the same year, she was awarded two goals the Czechs beat the For the Swiss the bronze medal at the World championship.
Risiko de repercussion
Schools and When they sign international players, coaches must accept certain risks. Academics and admissions can be complicated by language barriers and team chemistry. There are challenges that students may face. the The whirlwind that is long-distance traveling and international competition schedules.
It is important that coaches are acknowledged. the Risk of panic among American prospects who are not in the best position and They are their parents and Questions regarding whether or not colleges are in the United States must pay for athletes to play under different flags.
Minnesota, whose women’s hockey team has won six N.C.A.A. title, has largely remained an inside-state operation. However, Brad Frost was able to take over. the Gophers’ coach since 2007, recalled some pushback when he first brought in two Finnish players.
“Just wait until you see these players,” He was able to recall telling those who doubted him. These players were awarded national championships andLater on, Olympic medals were awarded. The dissent quieted.
Coaches said that winning silences the skeptics. While collegiate coaching may prove to be beneficial for a player’s development, it is not the same as their experience at a new school. and Coaching professionals are seeking returns.
Coaches in college sports are under constant pressure to win. Many have learned to trust that no potential star can be overlooked.
“My job is to be competitive, and if I’m not, I’m out of it,” Sparky Anderson the Ski coach in Alaska Anchorage. the Skiers who are female come from overseas. “If I could get a whole bunch of Alaskans and they were going to be top 10 at N.C.A.A.s, I’m all in. But that’s just not the reality.”
For Women are often more successful in elite sports than men. and Men are less successful than women. Numerous of the Beijing’s ice hockey team knows that 2026 will be the Olympic year.
Beyond Many athletes have ambitions to be athletic. the Their decision to study was influenced by the limitations of their playing careers. and Get in the United States.
Patkova hopes to make a career out of film production. “the passion I really found” Vermont
Karjalainen would like to be on the Ice at the 2026 Milan Cortina games with students and master’s degrees from Vermont.
“I knew that I could not make millions by playing hockey,” Sie said.
However, there are tens to thousands of American girl and Ice hockey is increasingly popular among women, which has been a growing trend in recent decades, according to coaches and executives. and Players don’t expect an immediate end. the Intense influx of international athletes. At least two dozen colleges have added women’s ice hockey teams in the last decade.
“The more we have schools, the more they’re going to need players,” Mira Jalosuo said that she was one of the authors. the Early Finnish players at Minnesota, who are now assistant coaches at St. Cloud State. “This is going to be the new pathway.”
And, she argued, it could eventually create a women’s hockey universe with more parity than exists today.
“If you’re just playing in Europe, you’re always a little timid to play against the U.S.A. and Canadian players because you don’t know what to expect,” Jalosuo won the bronze medal. the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. “Once you’ve played daily practice, you know, ‘I’m there with these guys.’”