SUCCESS STORIES. University of Oregon golfer Tze-Han (Heather) Lin
gestures to teammates on the first green during the NCAA college women’s
golf championship title match against Stanford, at Grayhawk Golf Club in
Scottsdale, Arizona. Tze-Han, like many other international athletes
playing college sports in the United States, had little sense of Title
IX when they were teenagers. But the federal law has opened the door for
thousands of female athletes to get an American education and a shot at
a career. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)
From The Asian Reporter, V32, #7 (July 4, 2022), page 16.
Title IX creating opportunities for international
By Daniella Matar and Teresa M. Walker
AP Sports Writers
MILAN — For Maria Bulanova, it was a matter of surprise — that she
could be recruited to the bowling team at Vanderbilt "all the way from
Like other international athletes playing college sports in the
United States, she had little sense of Title IX when she was younger.
But the federal law has opened the door for thousands of female athletes
from abroad to get an American education and possibly a shot at a life
and career in the United States.
"People were surprised that Vanderbilt was able to recruit me all the
way from Russia," Bulanova said. "They were like, ‘Oh, wow. Their
recruiting is really diverse.’ Like, ‘Wow. They saw you all the way from
Bulanova was looking to bowl in Europe after finishing her last year
of school in Russia. In November 2015, she represented Russia in the
World Cup in Las Vegas and bowled well enough that several American
colleges wanted her to visit. She visited five colleges in one week in
February 2016 before choosing Vanderbilt.
"What really made them stand out is obviously the education. And I
was also looking for a good bowling program where I know that we’re
going to win something, we’re going to be in competition for the
national championship. So Vanderbilt had both, and that was perfect,"
said Bulanova, who graduated in 2020 and is now in her second year
competing on tour with the Professional Women’s Bowling Association. She
is also working on a master’s degree at St. Francis in New York, where
she is an assistant coach.
Bulanova helped Vanderbilt win its second national championship in
women’s bowling in 2018. There were also two other international
players: Kristin Quah of Singapore and Emily Rigney of Australia.
Coach John Williamson started the Vanderbilt bowling program in 2004,
building off a club team, and has three national runner-up finishes in
addition to the two national championships.
"From a Title IX standpoint, I like to think that we’re a success
story of it because we’re able to take kids from around the U.S., around
the globe that wouldn’t have had the opportunity to come to Vanderbilt,
or even thought about going to Vanderbilt, and getting them to come to
campus and so they get a world class education," Williamson said.
"They get to compete at a really high level. And they get to do their
sport. They get to get their education. They get sort of the best of
Quah was the first of the three to bowl for Vanderbilt after she
reached out to the university by e-mail while playing for the Singapore
junior national team. Williamson and an assistant went to the world
youth championships in Hong Kong and saw Quah bowl along with Bulanova
and Rigney. Quah’s first year at Vanderbilt was 2015. Bulanova and
Rigney started the following year.
"So basically, like Kristin e-mailing us, expressing her interest,
got us talking to her, which then got us to Hong Kong, which then got us
to find Maria," Williamson said.
Bulanova and Quah received scholarships via a direct route, but it
can be a more expensive process for others.
Several agencies exist to help foreign athletes by putting them in
contact with coaches and universities, as well as assisting them through
the bureaucratic process once they get accepted.
Deljan Bregasi founded one such agency. Originally from Albania,
Bregasi grew up in Italy before moving to study in Miami and then New
York on soccer scholarships.
Bregasi set up USA College Sport in 2015 in Boston and said he has
helped obtain scholarships for about 300 athletes, charging $3,200 for
the agency’s services.
The agency originally focused on helping boys in Italy and Albania
get soccer scholarships in the United States before expanding to other
sports and female athletes in 2018.
"The girls are those who can have much more opportunity in a certain
sense because there is Title IX that, fortunately I’ll add, allows them
to practice sport with a scholarship, and it’s an experience that a girl
who plays sport in Italy sadly doesn’t have," Bregasi said.
"It’s also one of our aims at the moment to focus better on female
athletes because it’s also, you could say, easier because in Italy
women’s soccer is growing while the level in volleyball and athletics is
very high, and so it’s worthwhile for us helping female athletes more
because they have a good chance of getting a scholarship, seeing as
there’s Title IX," Bregasi said.
Serena Frolli, a 17-year-old middle distance runner from Genoa,
Italy, used her time during the pandemic lockdown to research colleges
herself and to speak to coaches before eventually deciding to use the
services of an American agency.
"I have to say that it was quite expensive, but then looking at the
scholarship that I got, you can say that it repays the initial costs,"
Frolli said. "But then they also help you throughout your time at
university, so I liked that, too. And also my mother feels more calm
knowing that. She told me, ‘Let’s do it.’"
Frolli is heading to Northwestern in August to study mechanical
engineering on a track scholarship. She knows that will give her more
opportunities than if she had remained in Italy.
She has long dreamed of being both an astronaut and a medal-winning
athlete. The benefits of Title IX allow her to pursue her double
"Why should I choose?" Frolli said. "That’s why I’m going to the
Similarly, Aline Krauter and Tze-Han (Heather) Lin left their
homelands to play college golf in the U.S., opportunities made possible,
in large part, by Title IX.
A superb junior player from Stuttgart, Germany, Krauter had no
opportunity to play collegiately in Europe, so she moved to Florida and
spent three years at Saddlebrook Prep in Wesley Chapel. She ended up
playing four seasons at Stanford, winning the national team championship
in May as a senior.
Tze-Han was a top junior player in Taiwan when she was recruited by
then first-year Oregon coach Derek Radley. She ended up being the
cornerstone of a team that would add two more Taiwanese players and that
finished second at this year’s national championships.
"The NCAA, having the same number of scholarships for men and women
for sure allowed me to play golf and get the full scholarship," said Tze-Han,
who finished fifth in the NCAA individual championships. "I don’t think
I would have gotten that anywhere else in the world."
AP Sports Writer John Marshall contributed to this report from
Phoenix and Walker reported from Nashville, Tennessee.
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