Kyle Sarigiannis in year 12 and Hannah Higgins in year 9, Endeavour High School students. Photo by Louise KennerleyKyle Sarigiannis, one of the state’s top young soccer players and a high-achieving year-12 student, has his sights set on a leading US university with a prominent college sports program after the HSC.
“I want to go to UCLA or Stanford University because I want to combine training and study,” said Kyle, 17, who is a student at Endeavour Sports High School in Sydney’s south.
“There’s a lot of interest in [going to the US] among my friends, and I have three friends who are playing [college sports] over there now.”
With interest in overseas university options growing among students and parents, Endeavour Sports High’s principal James Kozlowski said this could be a “seminal moment” for Australian teen athletes.
Mr Kozlowski said he recently contacted the US consulate to find out what the school could do to make sure its students are well-placed to pursue further education in the US.
“Our message to students from year 7 is that success in sport is fleeting and your academics are what you have to fall back on,” Mr Kozlowski said.
“And increasingly, people are saying that you can combine sporting development and academic success, they’re not mutually exclusive.
“Research says if you give them the right support and get the balance, they can be really successful in both and that’s something the American system has done really well while Australia is lagging behind.”
Hannah Higgins, a year-9 student at the school, said she has been thinking about going to the US after high school for a while.
“There’s more opportunity there to combine sports with study at a really high level,” Hannah, 15, said. “I’m looking at UCLA and Stanford too because [they] get extremely great results in female swimming and I also play basketball, which they do well in too.”
Representatives from the US National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which supports more than 1000 universities and runs college championships, are speaking to the NSW Department of Education and to students, parents and teachers at high school and university events this week.
The talks come ahead of Sunday’s play-off between Stanford and Rice universities at ANZ stadium, the second college football game to be hosted in Sydney in the past two years.
Oliver Luck, the NCAA’s executive vice president of regulatory affairs, said “there is no doubt” that interest and awareness of US colleges’ sports programs has increased in Australia.
“At any one time we probably have about 500 student athletes from Australia in the US,” Mr Luck said. “Basketball is the most popular for Australian men and women and tennis and swimming aren’t far behind.
“Australia is more similar to the US system than many countries so, generally speaking, a young person who has graduated from an Australian high school has a good chance they’re eligible to enrol in the US.”
However, Mr Luck said the application process is much harder for overseas athletes than for US students.
“A foreign student needs to be more aggressive and contact a coach and send them a video rather than waiting for someone to contact them,” Mr Luck said.
“Pick the schools you think you’d really enjoy attending, go to the NCAA website and make sure you’re taking the right core courses. Do that as early as you can in your high school career, in year 9 or 10.”