International Student-Athletes Taking Daemen By Storm

By Gretchen Beyer

International students at Daemen University come few and far between, yet their force is still felt on campus and in their sporting events.

With Daemen University being a small school of roughly 2,000 students, located in Amherst, New York, it is shocking that individuals travel from all over the world to attend classes and play sports here. 

According to the Executive Director of Global Programs, Ann Robinson, there are about 27 international students walking the campus of Daemen College this semester. Of those 27 students, about seven are from the neighbors north of the border in Canada and 20 are student-athletes or involved in a graduate assistant program within athletics. 

Sophomore center back for the Wildcats men’s soccer team, Alexander Khademi, who comes to Amherst from Stockholm, Sweden acknowledges that soccer is what drew him to the school.

“Soccer and my coach played a big role in me choosing Daemen. I heard of the school from my coach [in Sweden] that was helping me get recruited,” Khademi said.

Daemen University is a division two program playing in the NCAA, competing in the East Coast Conference. 

According to the Wildcats’ home webpage, there are six men’s sports teams and ten women’s teams, including the newly added women’s lacrosse. 

Men’s soccer is not the only team on campus that has landed some student-athletes from across the pond. 

Other teams include men’s tennis and volleyball and women’s soccer, with athletes coming from all over Europe and Australia to compete.

In addition to sports being a big magnet in attracting athletes such as Khademi to Daemen, academics play an important role in these individuals’ decisions.

Madita Zeitz of Germany (left) in action for the Wildcats during the 2021 season.

Sophomore midfielders for the Wildcats women’s soccer team, Madita Zeitz and Demi McCalliog, who come to Amherst from Malsch, Germany, and Wolverhampton, England, respectfully, agree that academics are just as important as the games on the soccer pitch.

“I really liked how Daemen offers the opportunity to be taught in small class sizes,” Zeitz said, “You have the chance to actively participate as well as form close relationships with your professors.”

Daemen University is known around the greater Buffalo area as one of the top schools for professional programs such as physician assistant, physical therapy, athletic training, and business administration. 

Robinson said “currently it is business” when asked what the most popular major among international students was. 

Khademi and Zeitz both plan on completing their bachelor’s degrees, with hopes to possibly continue onto their master’s degrees from the university as well. 

The two share the same area of study in business administration, while Zeitz added a specialization in international business. 

McCalliog, in contrast, takes part in the world-renowned science program offered by Daemen, diving into the biochemistry field with hopes of one day becoming a doctor. 

A small percentage of the international students on Daemen’s campus are not student-athletes and come to the school for the wonderful academic programs offered. 

Khademi, McCalliog, and Zeitz all acknowledged the fact that their sport helped to make their dreams of playing soccer in the States come true, with financial assistance. 

Being a division two school, within the NCAA, means that programs are allowed to offer student-athletes athletic scholarships to help offset the hefty price tag which is college tuition. 

This is very common with international student-athletes.

“Yes, a lot,” Khademi said when asked if soccer helped him financially make the move to come here.

“Without it, I would have never come here,” Khademi said. 

Zeitz agrees but says that it was not her “major reason” for her “decision of coming here.” 

As rare as international students come to Daemen University, it is a great opportunity for them to develop their own independence while playing the sport they have grown to love. 

“The soccer team became my second family and I feel very grateful to be a part of it,” Zeitz said in an interview, “The friends I have made here really make Buffalo my second home.”

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