Yesterday we celebrated the 240th anniversary of our nation's declaration of independence. It's good that we celebrate that. This country was founded on the ideas of significant freedoms for the people, and 240 years has brought a great amount of success for America in most measures. These are laudable things to celebrate.
I thought I would take this day, the day after the celebration of our independence and creation of a new sovereign nation, to celebrate the inclusiveness that this country has embodied over the years. The US has always, with a few minor periods where we have faltered, been a nation welcoming of immigrants looking for a new and better life.
UofL Athletics has a large number of foreign-born athletes and coaches. I thought I would take a moment at highlight at least a few of them.
Justine Sowry, Field Hockey
It's no secret that we here at Cardinal Couple are big fans of Field Hockey coach Justine Sowry. Whether wearing a hat or not, Coach Sowry always greets us with a smile, even after a loss. We celebrated a couple of weeks ago when Justine gained her American citizenship, and are proud that this Australian-born decided to make our country even greater than it was. She has recruited to her squad Ayeisha McFerran, who is gaining a large amount of international attention as the GoalKeeper for the Irish National Squad; Tess Hannah, from Brisbane, Australia; Elisa "Chile" Garcia, certainly a Cardinal Couple favorite, out Santiago, Chile; Katherine Gwynne-Wood, from Ipswich, England; recent graduate Vic Stratton from Auckland, New Zealand; one of my favorite Field Hockey players thanks to an impromptu skills tutorial she gave me, Lotta Kahlert, from Hamburg, Germany; and Maria Gomez, of Madrid, Spain.
Arthur Albiero, KZ Li, Vlad Polyakov, Swimming & Diving
Brazilian born, and holding dual-citizenship with the US, Coach Albiero has achieved amazing success in recent year with a very international swimming team. Joined by the Diving Head Coach KZ Li from China, and Kazakhstani Vlad Polyakov as Assistant Coach, the Swimming and Diving program has taken on a distinct international flavor (perhaps I should spell that "flavour" in light of today's subject). The squad includes Devon Bibault from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Alina Kendzior - holder of the 100m backstroke record in her native Estonia; Andrea Kneppers of Schagen, Netherlands; and Manuela Sampaio out of Brazil. We also were proud, here at Cardinal Couple, to follow the collegiate career of Tanja Kyllianen who holds dual citizenship with Finland.
The success of Kenyans in distance running events is almost cliche', but there is, of course, truth to it as well. The UofL Cross-Country squad has a Kenyan on it, Denadate Cheruiyot; but also has a couple of other countries represented as well, with Mia Ross out of Lonford, Australia; and Aurilla Wilson, from Balgonie, Canada.
A pair of Lacrossers hail from outside the US. If you've followed Louisville Lacrosse at all anytime in the past four years, you've heard about Kay Morissette, but you may have forgotten that she came to us from Bowmanville, Ontario. Meanwhile, another Laxer that we've talked about a bit, Stephanie McNamara, joins us from Victoria, Australia.
With as large of a roster as Rowing has, they almost always have entries on lists like this. No exception here, with Rebecca Busck stroking from Slangerup, Denmark; Lucrezia Fossi from Florence, Italy; Lucie Heranova from Prague, Czech Republic; and Ashleigh Hodge out of Hamilton, New Zealand.
Perhaps the most popular sport in the world, UofL's Soccer team is sure to have some international influence. With Tina Marolt from Smatevz, Slovenia; Rachel Avant from Frankfurt, Germany; Nina Suter, from Niederglatt, Switzerland; Cardinal Couple favorite Inger Katrine-Bjerke of Baerum, Norway (and I suspect that "ae" is supposed to be smooshed together as Norwegians are wont to do); and Isabella Habuda from Belle River, Ontario.
Not a large roster, but Mark Beckham does have one player from across the Atlantic, with Elle Stokes out Birmingham, England.
Track & Field
Other than the aforementioned Cross Country runners, Track & Field has other non-USAian competitors; Cyerra Cassell from Toronto, Ontario; Lydia Mato, from Accra, Ghana; Michelle Molodynia, from Niagara Falls, Ontario; Linda Mutter out of Rheinfelden, Germany; and Mara Zielonka, out of Emmerthal, Germany.
So give a thought these these UofL folks. Many of them are a long way from home, some of them a very long way from home, and they may only get to see their families once or maybe twice a year, and some significantly less than that!
Who's your favorite international Cardinal, whether current or past? We'd love to hear.