The students at St. Edward’s proudly represent 55 countries around the world. A specifically small Central American country is represented not just in the school’s general population, but the women’s tennis team as well.
Junior Paola Carpio hails from El Salvador, a country whose population competes with that of the Greater Houston area at around 6.3 million people.
So how does an athlete from a country so small hear of and attend a college as small as St Edward’s in what is the fourth largest city in the state of Texas?
“There’s a couple St. Edward’s people that go to the American school in El Salvador, so I knew people that were studying here… That’s how I learned about St. Edward’s,” Carpio said.
Unlike what an outsider may believe, a school like SEU doesn’t initiate in the recruitment process by reaching out, it’s actually the other way around — at least as far as tennis is concerned.
“A lot of athletes are contacting you… I get emails daily, probably from people from all over the world who are interested,” women’s tennis head coach Kendall Brooks said.
Already having to compete with Div. I schools for top-tier high school athletes, the daily emails from international recruits are always welcome.
Carpio has always envisioned herself playing in the United States, but she was going to do it the right way if she did. She developed a checklist to help her search for the right school. On top of having a strong athletics program, she wanted to attend a Catholic school with a strong academic program as well.
“I knew about Austin. I had never been here before, but I knew about it, how much it was growing… Especially as a business major, so that was ultimately what led to my decision,” Carpio said.
But just as Carpio had developed a checklist for her perfect fit, SEU also looks to check marks off their own list when recruiting athletes.
“She had great grades, so academically we knew she would get into the university, and also get an academic scholarship… Tennis-wise, she had the results, she had the training, the experience, and I think number one was her desire to want to be here,” Coach Brooks said.
Many international tennis players who excel not just in their sport, but academics as well, open doors for themselves that probably wouldn’t be presented in their home countries. According to Coach Brooks, in most situations, international student-athletes would have to typically pick to either be a student or an athlete once they get to be college-age. Carpio said she will not take that opportunity for granted.
“In the long run, I just want to build my own business. If it’s not that, I want to get into consulting.”