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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

JOURNAL: All of the Lights

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Photo by Collin Nawrocki
Photo via Marquette Athletics

Being college students, whether you’re a commuter or a resident, we’re all away from our families in some respect. Of the 30 athletes on the men’s soccer team, there are nine international players who have gone through the process of living without their families. 

For first-year goalkeeper Renan Salum, being away from family motivates him to make them proud. Salum grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil and played with Sao Paulo F.C. for multiple years. While with the club, he helped them get to the Campeão Paulista Sub-15 Championship and won Best Goalkeeper Award at the 2018 youth championships in China. 

After being dismissed by his prior team in Brazil due to shoulder injuries, Salum wanted to find the next best path for himself. 

“I wasn’t looking for teams in Brazil, especially small teams, so I said, I might as well try something bigger, something better,’” Salum said. 

After head coach Louis Bennett reached out to him about coming to play at Marquette, Salum knew it was a no-brainer, but he also knew that leaving his family was going to be the hardest part.

“They want the best for me, and they’ve always been supporting me from the start of my career,” Salum said.

On and off the field, Salum said they keep him aligned and driven to wake up every day. 

“The people waiting for you when you come back home, you say to yourself, ‘Yeah, I’m doing it for these guys’,” Salum said.

Marquette’s roster is filled with several international players. Most of these athletes are going through similar situations to Salum, which he said has made the 5,000-mile journey to the United States easier.

“If it wasn’t for them, I would be lost. They always have my back regardless of the situation,” Salum said.

Sophomore midfielder and defender Tristan Rønnestad-Stevens said he found it difficult to leave his family behind in Australia, but being on the team made the transition easier.

“I went from living with them for 18 years of my life, as well as my friends, to hopping on that plane knowing I won’t get to see them for a year,” Rønnestad-Stevens says. “I’m lucky that I’m busy and doing something that I love, as much as I do miss them.”

When these athletes have “something to believe in” and that motivation, they can use this to better their performance. Sophomore midfielder Mitar Mitrovic, a native of Serbia, said that soccer has offered him an escape from the stress of his everyday life. 

“Everything I do is football. Even when all you have to do is school, and you’re stressed, you can step on the field or turn on the TV and watch a game, and everything just goes away,” Mitrovic said. “It’s my safe space in a way, and that’s what keeps me going.”

To make this experience easier to manage, Rønnestad-Stevens and Mitrovic said that finding the right balance and immersing yourself into the culture here have helped them adapt. 

“It’s easy to get homesick and caught up on what you’re missing out on, but if you really immerse yourself into the life here and the social aspects, you won’t get too caught up on what you’re missing,” Rønnestad-Stevens said. 

Salum said that by believing in yourself every day, and giving 100% effort regardless of the situation, both team and individual success will follow. 

“Just keep going, that’s the main thing for me that everyone on the team has to believe in, and with that, comes other things that will make a team succeed,” Salum said.

Although Rønnestad-Stevens’ eyes are fixed on the future, he said that having a support system to lean on pushes him closer to his goals everyday.

“It’s not that you forget what you left behind, but focusing on where you are now. If it doesn’t work out, you always have home to go back to,” Rønnestad-Stevens said. “Life is good when you’re doing something you love.” 

This article was written by Raquel Ruiz. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @raquelrz15.

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About the Contributor
Raquel Ruiz, Sports Reporter
Raquel Ruiz is a first-year student from Mundelein, Illinois studying digital media and is a Sports Reporter for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys playing volleyball, volunteering in her local community, spending time with friends and family and binge-watching tv shows. She is excited to learn from different people and explore what it is like to be a journalist in the media field.

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