International student-athletes have long been a part of the tradition of Butler sports, and the 2012-13 school year is no different.
There are 19 international athletes at Butler this year, according to an email from Hillary Zorman, associate director for international student services. Only 16 international athletes are listed on butlersports.com.
The fact remains that Butler attracts athletes from different corners of the world, each for a different reason.
For sophomore tennis player Stephanie McLoughlin, it was the combination of a great academic institution linked with the strength of the athletic teams here.
“I really just wanted a school with a good enough team to challenge my tennis play,” McLoughlin, who is from Toronto, Canada, said.
McLoughlin started her freshman year posting wins in doubles play against Indiana, Illinois State, Xavier, Dayton, Ball State, Western Michigan and Mercer.
McLoughlin did not always have her eye on a Bulldog jersey, despite her older brother Stephen playing tennis at Butler and her father playing at Indiana.
She visited a few schools similar to Butler in size, including Dayton, Wright State and Pittsburgh.
But the more she was around Butler, the more she wanted to be a Bulldog.
“I got really comfortable on campus, and around the coaching staff and the environment,” McLoughlin said.
Toronto is closer to Indiana than states like California or Texas, but the culture is the biggest difference.
“People are always like, ‘Whoa, you’re from Canada?’” McLoughlin said. “I’ll get people who occasionally make fun of how I spell or something, but it’s all in good fun. I can’t exactly go home on the weekends, but I feel very much at home.”
Ross Clarke, a junior distance runner from London, England, was the polar opposite. The British runner traveled to the United States to run for Butler for two years before returning home again, forfeiting his full scholarship two years early.
“Butler’s coaches were very proactive in making me feel wanted,” Clarke said. “I really enjoyed my first two years—the whole running and training aspect and the way of life.
“But obviously, you get homesick.”
Despite running personal bests in every one of his events, Clarke chose to return home—to family, friends and familiarity—and got a job straight away.
But then, everything changed. Again.
“I had gotten a little down,” said Clarke, who made the initial decision to return home after being invited to the British Olympic trials, only to fall victim to a stress fracture in his foot. “I think the main thing was that I had doubts about whether I’d be able to use the (Butler) degree back home. But then I realized that I really wanted to try and build my life in America.”
Last week, Clarke, who is now paying to be at Butler until his final year because of his early departure, made the last-second decision to return to campus after the fall semester had already started.
He said he credits cross country coach Matt Roe and the athletics department staff for working around the clock and getting him back into place at Butler.
“I realize I made a mistake,” Clarke said, “and it was hard leaving my family, but I had to make the decision to make a better life for myself. It may cost me ‘x’ amount of money, but I had to work around it to get back out here.
“Being from London, I had a busy city on my doorstep – but I really enjoy the Indiana way of life, and I intend to stay here for as long as I can.”