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International Sun Devils Shining in the Desert

Feb 8, 2021

Arizona State University takes pride in being one of the most diverse places to study in the World. Sun Devil Athletics is a perfect example of that diversity, as rosters featured nearly 90 international student-athletes across 14 men's and women's sports. One of the largest pools of international student-athletes belongs to the women's golf team, with six of the eight members coming from all over Europe.
The student-athletes: Alessandra Fanali (Fiuggi, Italy), Alexandra Forsterling (Berlin, Germany), Linn Grant (Viken, Sweden), Amanda Linner (Onsala, Sweden), Olivia Mehaffey (Belfast, Ireland), and Raquel Olmos (Torre-Pacheco, Murcia, Spain) bond through their similar circumstances of being away from home and have created a unique identity for the team.
"We all have something in common that we're all from Europe but at the same time we have things that are not in common because our cultures are so different," Olivia Mehaffey said. "I think it's nice because it gives us all a really good talking point. We all bond from being away from home and the struggle of that. That was one of the factors for why I wanted to come to ASU because the team is international."

The ASU Golf programs are no strangers to having top international talent, with the likes of Anna Nordqvist, Carlota Ciganda, Azahara Munoz, and Linnea Strom donning the maroon and gold at one point. Now established as respected professionals, many use their experiences to provide much-needed advice to the current team and give a glimpse to life on the tour. 
"Having our alums currently playing on the LPGA tour absolutely helps us," Head Coach Missy Farr-Kaye remarked. "Our alumni are so gracious in talking to our current players about what life is like on tour."
"When I was looking at ASU, so many internationals played here and that was a very big thing for me," Mehaffey said. "It's nice to have people around you who are going through the same thing."
While coming together as a team initially brought a learning curve due to personal, cultural and geographical differences, familiar faces from previous experiences made things easier for the golfers.
"We all knew each other because we're Europeans," Linn Grant said. "We saw each other in tournaments in Europe so we've all played together before. That was one of the reasons why I chose ASU, because I knew everyone already. Even before I came in I felt that I was friends with everyone. Even though we're from different places we're sorta from the same place because we're not from the United States."
Bringing together top international talent led to a camaraderie that grew through shared experiences that is now a specific identity for the team. Much of that stemmed from playing together during practice, or chatting with each other and the men's golf team off the course.
Despite having a predominantly international team, Coach Farr-Kaye was solely focused on bringing together some of the best people from the sport regardless of location.
"My goal is to recruit the top players in Arizona, the US and all over the world," Farr-Kaye said. "European players usually represent their countries at an early age and are exposed to team golf.  These players are very passionate about playing for their countries and also in turn are very passionate about their collegiate teams.  I feel it is an asset to have any golfer that loves team golf be a part of our program."
Now, while continuing to learn and grow from each other as they navigate the culture shock of being in the United States, the women's golf team is focused on growing the legacy of ASU Golf while making a name for themselves.
"We're all different but at the same time we all have the same purpose," Raquel Olmos said. "We want to play golf. We want to get better. We want to win. We want to be the best team and players we can be."
Playing in the United States not only challenges the student-athletes personally and culturally, but also in their professional development. Different courses and greens have allowed these Sun Devils to add to their repertoire and prepare themselves for professional careers after collegiate play.
But it's the connectedness of these international student-athletes that have made the adjustment of playing overseas less strenuous.
"I look at where I was my freshman year and where I am now, and it's such a significant difference," Mehaffey said. "Also off the course, I feel that this is my home away from home and I'm very glad that I was able to make this place feel like home. I've learned so much as a person and a professional player."
Three-time National Champion Missy Farr-Kaye knows what it takes to navigate a team to a title run. She knows that it requires much more than just talent, but also being cohesiveness as a team. Despite the different backgrounds of her 2021 team, they have bought into the culture and have one common goal in mind. 
"I learned early on that the culture of our team is the most important component of our team," Farr-Kaye reflected. "From our work ethic to our shared goals to having fun, we thrive when we are all going in the same direction."

With nearly 90 international student-athletes across 14 men's and women's sports, Sun Devil Athletics has established a unique environment where all cultures and backgrounds are welcome. Here is a full list of all the international student-athletes representing Arizona State:

International Sun Devils by Sports

Men's Sports 
Pavlo Dziuba / Ukraine
Cross Country
Fearghal Curtin / Cork, Ireland
Alex George / Gloucester, England
Jackson He / Shaoguan, China
James Leow / Singapore
David Puig / La Garriga, Spain 
Chun An Yu / Taoyuan, Taiwan


Ice Hockey
Gvido Jansons / Grobina, Latvia
Tanner Hickey / Leduc, AB, Canada
Jordan Sandhu / Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
Peter Zhong / Beijing, China
Evan DeBrouwer / Blenheim, Ontario, Canada
Cole Brady / Pickering, Ontario, Canada
Jarrod Gourley / Calgary, Alberta, Canada
PJ Marrocco / Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Jack Judson / White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

Swimming and Diving
Carter Swift / Melbourne, Australia
Andrea Bolla / Cuneo, Italy
Moritz Hoffmann / Reilingen, Germany
Tom LeBlanc / La Valette-Du-Var, France
Christian Lerby / Marbella, Spain
Makey Rakotomalala / Creteil, France
Tim Ruehl / Waldshut-Tiengen, Germany
George Stoupe / Lower-Hutt, New Zealand
Track and Field
Ian Kebenei / Nakuru, Kenya 
Women's Sports 
Taya Hanson / Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Iris Mbulito / Las Palmas De Gran Canaria, Spain
Maggie Besselink / Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Imogen Greenslade / Sydney, Australia 

Beach Volleyball
Aleksandra Sochacka / Jaworzno, Poland
Cross Country
Lena Lebrun / Montbrison, France
Alessandra Fanali / Fiuggi, Italy
Alexandra Forsterling / Berlin, Germany
Linn Grant / Viken, Sweden
Amanda Linner / Onsala, Sweden
Olivia Mehaffey / Belfast, Ireland
Raquel Olmos / Torre-Pacheco, Murcia, Spain
Hannah Scharf / Barrie, Ontario, Canada
Avery Hamill / Paris, Ontario, Canada
Bella Gaspar / Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Gigi Gaspar / Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Lieske Carleer / Winterswijk, Netherlands
Lara Barbieri / Monte Mor, Sao Paolo, Brazil 
Alexia Delgado / Nayarit, Mexico
Nicole Douglas / Staines, Middlesex, England 
Eva van Deursen / Veldhoven, Netherlands 
Hikaru Minami / Tokyo, Japan
Pia Bozic / Kamnik, Slovenia
Tahlia Herman-Watt / Rangiora, New Zealand
Lucy Johnson / Nottingham, England
Vildan Kardesler / Steinfurt, Germany
Jazmine Wilkinson / Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

Swimming and Diving
Jane Brown / Newcastle Upon Tyne, England
Marianna Argyrokastriti / Athens, Greece
Ilze Hattingh / Pretoria, South Africa
Lauryn John-Baptiste / London, England
Sasa Klanecek / Maribor, Slovenia
Tereza Kolarova / Frydek-Mistek, Czech Republic
Domenika Turkovic / Zagreb, Croatia
Track and Field
Josephine Anokye / Kumasi, Ghana
Amanda Carty / Jamaica
Lena Lebrun / Montbrison, France 
Beatrice Llano / Bergen, Norway
Jeminise Parris / Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Hannah Henry / Victoria, Canada
Kyla Roy / Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Gal Rubanenko / Tel Aviv, Israel 
Amber Schlebusch / Durban, South Africa
Marta Levinska / Riga, Latvia
Iman Isanovic / Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Story)
Jinna Zeng / Surrey, Canada
Ayyuce Altintas / Ankara, Turkey
Roberta Rabelo / Porto Alegre, Brazil


Water Polo
Bente Rogge / Zaanstad, Netherlands
Chelsea Karimazondo / Harare, Zimbabwe
Blaire McDowell / Regina Saskatchewan, Canada
Eszter Kiss / Pilisvorosvar, Hungary 
Emma Fraser / Victoria, Canada
Borbala Kekesi / Egar, Hungary
Alison Cameron / Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Alba Olivé Martí / Barcelona, Spain 
Luca Petovary / Szentendre, Hungary

International Sun Devils by Nation
Carter Swift / Men's Swimming and Diving
Imogen Greenslade / Women's Basketball
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Iman Isanovic / Volleyball
Lara Barbieri / Soccer
Roberta Rabelo / Volleyball
Tanner Hickey / Ice Hockey
Jordan Sandhu / Ice Hockey
Evan DeBrouwer / Ice Hockey
Cole Brady / Ice Hockey
Jarrod Gourley / Ice Hockey
Taya Hanson / Women's Basketball
Maggie Besselink / Women's Basketball
Hannah Scharf / Gymnastics
Jazmine Wilkinson / Soccer
Hannah Henry / Triathlon
Kyla Roy / Triathlon
Jinna Zeng / Volleyball
PJ Marrocco / Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Jack Judson / White Rock, British Columbia, Canada
Blaire McDowell / Water Polo
Emma Fraser / Water Polo
Alison Cameron / Water Polo
Avery Hamill / Paris, Ontario, Canada
Bella Gaspar / Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Gigi Gaspar / Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Jackson He / Football
Peter Zhong / Beijing, China
Domenika Turkovic / Women's Tennis
Czech Republic
Tereza Kolarova / Women's Tennis
Youssef Selim / Men's Swimming and Diving
Alex George / Men's Cross Country
Nicole Douglas / Soccer
Lucy Johnson / Soccer
Jane Brown / Women's Swimming and Diving
Lauryn John-Baptiste / Women's Tennis


Silja Kansakoski / Women's Swimming and Diving
Tom LeBlanc / Men's Tennis
Makey Rakotomalala / Men's Tennis
Lena Lebrun / Women's Cross Country
Moritz Hoffmann / Men's Tennis
Tim Ruehl / Men's Tennis
Alexandra Forsterling / Women's Golf
Vildan Kardesler / Soccer
Josephine Anokye / Women's Track and Field
Marianna Argyrokastriti / Women's Tennis
Eszter Kiss / Water Polo
Borbala Kekesi / Water Polo
Luca Petovary / Water Polo
Fearghal Curtin / Men's Cross Country
Olivia Mehaffey / Women's Golf
Gal Rubanenko / Triathlon
Andrea Bolla / Men's Tennis
Alessandra Fanali / Women's Golf
Amanda Carty / Women's Track and Field
Hikaru Minami / Soccer
Mo Bedour / Amman, Jordan
Ian Kebenei / Men's Track and Field
Gvido Jansons / Ice Hockey
Marta Levinska / Volleyball
Alexia Delgado / Soccer
Lieske Carleer / Soccer
Eva van Deursen / Soccer
Bente Rogge / Water Polo
New Zealand
George Stoupe / Men's Tennis
Tahlia Herman-Watt / Soccer
Beatrice Llano / Women's Track and Field
Aleksandra Sochacka / Beach Volleyball
James Leow / Men's Golf
Sasa Klanecek / Women's Tennis
South Africa
Ilze Hattingh / Women's Tennis
David Puig / Men's Golf
Christian Lerby / Men's Tennis
Iris Mbulito / Women's Basketball
Raquel Olmos / Women's Golf
Alba Olivé Martí / Water Polo
Linn Grant / Women's Golf
Amanda Linner / Women's Golf
Chun An Yu / Men's Golf
Trinidad and Tobago
Jeminise Parris / Women's Track and Field
Ayyuce Altintas / Volleyball
Pavlo Dziuba / Men's Basketball
Chelsea Karimazondo / Water Polo

--International Sun Devils Shining in the Desert (Feb. 8, 2021)
--Sun Devil Athletics Represented by Many Nations Among Its Student-Athletes (Feb. 5, 2020)
--Sun Devil Soccer Embodiment of International Student-Athlete Impact at ASU (Nov. 28, 2018)
--International Student-Athletes Give @TheSunDevils Global Background (Sept. 21, 2017)