Sports & Outdoors

Home away from home field: Athletes travel to continue sports career

The sports facilities at the University of Puget Sound often feel like a home-away-from-home for student-athletes — Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The University of Puget Sound has students from almost every state here on campus and many more from countries around the world. People come from as far as Maine and Hawaii to study at the University of Puget Sound.

People make their way to campus for all kinds of reasons, but many athletes find their way to Puget Sound to continue their sports careers. Each of the Logger teams has a variety of local and out-of-state players, creating an interesting mix of people coming together for their love of sports.

The east coast, New England in particular, was an especially interesting area that brought people to Tacoma.

“I was very interested in the ​Geology program here at UPS and wanted to experience a different version of American life in the PNW,” Thomas Kimler ’18, a men’s cross country runner from Natick, Massachusetts, said.

“I chose UPS for the school because I knew academically it was a good fit, as for the fact I had no idea what I wanted to study and because of how beautiful the campus and state of Washington are,” Ezra Kraus ’18, a men’s soccer player from Harvard, Massachusetts, said.

These two players, both Massachusetts natives, each had their sights set on Puget Sound’s academics but desired a change to the east coast lifestyle that defined their upbringing.

“I wanted to get out of Massachusetts and really get a new experience and a fresh start where I wouldn’t know anyone. All of my friends went to UMass and, while I cherished those friendships, I really wanted to do something different,” Kraus said.

Both Kimler and Kraus shared a similar view of finding a home within Tacoma, specifically among their fellow student-athletes. The bond of teammates was well worth the 2,000-plus-mile journey they made to Puget Sound. Kraus specifically speaks highly of his soccer family.

“First off, soccer gave me a family. While my real family is thousands of miles away, I knew I could always turn to my brothers on the soccer team with any problem,” Kraus said. “They took me in as one of their own and this sense of community made me feel extremely comfortable and safe in my new location. It also occupied my time so much that I had no time to miss home; I was either always focused on soccer or school.”

Kimler and Kraus both cherish their teammates, but they also show respect for the drive and passion of the coaches in their respective sports.

“I also think that having a close relationship with my teammates and coaching staff keeps me motivated to push harder during workouts and meets,” Kimler said.

“The coaches have been like mentors to me, helping me not just in how to become a good soccer player but how to become a better person and to live every day as my best self, never taking anything for granted,” Kraus said.

Mike Orechia, Director of Cross Country and Track and Field, also added that his vision of the future for his Logger teams includes athletes from all over the country: “I am just looking for student-athletes who want to challenge themselves both academically and athletically. Because I am originally from MA and have coached in CA and IL I have many contacts around the country to help identify the type of S-A [student athlete] I am looking for.”

Each member of the Puget Sound athletics community has a different background. Everyone comes from different towns, different states and even different levels of play from around the country. But Logger athletes attest to the fact that there is something about a team that really brings people together.

“Really the whole thing has been special and I am beyond blessed and privileged to have gotten this opportunity and for that, I am grateful beyond words,” Kraus said.