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Inside FAU’s international recruiting process: How it occurs and varies by sport

At Florida Atlantic University, 16 out of the 18 athletic teams have international atheletes, softball and spirit/dance are the two exceptions.

At Florida Atlantic University, 16 out of the 18 athletic teams have international athletes, softball and spirit/dance are the two exceptions. The geographical distance requires coaches to adopt various strategies for recruiting athletes.  

According to the International Student Services, FAU is highly ranked amongst the most ethnically and culturally diverse universities in the country. Students from approximately 100 different countries come to FAU. 

The Owls teams with the most international players are men’s soccer (12), the golf teams  (13), tennis (12) and swimming and diving (16). 

“I travel twice a year. I’ll go to Europe, usually in the first week of June and the first week of August,” women’s golf head coach Heather Bowie said. “There’s really big tournaments over there that kids from all different countries will come to, so you’re able to see probably 150 different kids at a time.”

The women’s golf team is made up of seven international players out of nine total, and the men’s golf team has six international players out of twelve.

2024 FAU women’s golf Paradise Invitational (FAU Athletics)

Men’s golf head coach Adrien Mork shared that he also travels to Europe to attend the European Boys Championship, which has 18 and under players. In this tournament, countries from all over the world bring their best six players to compete.

During early August, Mork stays in the States to attend the U.S. junior tournament. This year it will be played at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Some of the top Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) golfers have won it, such as Tiger Woods, Jordan Speith and Scottie Scheffler. 

“There are budget restraints, so we can’t go all the time,” men’s soccer head coach Joey Worthen said. “We usually make one trip internationally each year to try and find players. [If] we have a connection that we’ve been given a tip on some players, we’d go to watch them in person and meet them.”

Soccer and golf are two major sports that dominate internationally, each having competitive leagues in their own country. However, with sports such as beach volleyball, which has four international players, traveling for recruitment occurs less frequently. 

Julie Honzovicova and Ashleigh Adams against USF (FAU Athletics-Keira Arimenta)

“It’s been a few years since we went [traveled]. The last time we went was Sumer 2019…The plan is to go back, hopefully, next summer to watch again since [players] Julie [Honzovicova] and Marketa [Svozilova] are going to be graduating next year,” beach volleyball head coach Steve Grotowski said. 

Aside from traveling, college recruiting sites are critical in bringing players to the coaches’ attention. 

All four coaches stated that they use recruiting tools when finding athletes. Worthen provided College Scholarships USA as one example of a recruitment site he uses.  

“It’s a lot easier to get American kids on campus and interact with them,” Grotowski said. 

With recruiting internationally, coaches have to rely on building a relationship with the recruiter and trusting them, rather than the athlete. 

Bowie spent 17 years playing in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). Mork grew up in France and came to the U.S. to play college golf. He then went on to play in the PGA for about 10 years. Both golf coaches utilize their personal connections from their experiences playing professionally when finding athletes.

After the coaches narrow down their contenders, they conduct Zoom or phone call interviews with potential players in order to get to know them on a deeper personal level, aside from their athletic statistics. They emphasized knowing their athletes and understanding who they are as a person, so they can help them with the difficult transition and ensure that their personality would be a good addition to the team. 

“When they come over here, they’re going to be here for four years and it’s like inviting someone into your family who spends a lot of time together and you have to make sure that fits right,” Bowie said.

Coming to the U.S. provides athletes with opportunities to continue their careers, not only during college but with a chance to go on to compete in leagues. 

“The players want to come to the U.S. because it’s a chance to continue their education and then also to continue to play soccer,” Worthen said. 

NaShawn Tyson with Adrien Mork at Invitational

Worthen has noticed that international soccer players typically hope to get a professional contract in their country when they are 16. When they realize that isn’t an option, they’ll look towards playing at the university level in the U.S.

The same rule holds true for golf, Bowie stated that the PGA and LPGA are a large draw for international golf players to come to the U.S. for university. 

FAU’s location holds its own appeal that draws athletes to come. The warmer South Florida weather draws athletes to FAU, according to the four coaches, as athletics can take place outside year-round.

“I think a lot of the reasons why everyone here loves FAU is our location. The fact that they get to come to the U.S. but then come specifically to Florida and to Boca versus being in Oklahoma or Kansas is a real selling point,” Worthen said. 

Grotowski said that when his athletes returned home to the Czech Republic over winter break, they returned to FAU and jokingly told him it was too cold for them because they’re used to the warmer weather. 

Despite the weather appeals, Bowie explained that because FAU isn’t a larger university, athletes from the states are drawn away from it. She says that they value a “big-time school,” that gives them experiences such as football Saturdays.

Megan Bruinsma is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email her at or DM her on Instagram @megan_bruinsma or X(Twitter) @MeganBruinsma.

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