Recruiting and College experience of Track athlete Esther Vermue

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This week, MADE Scholarships will highlight the college experience one of its Dutch agents, Esther Vermue. Esther, a semi-professional track runner, runs for Rotterdam Track Club and specializes in the 800 and 1500 meter races. She is a former college athlete who competed for the University of Missouri in Columbia, USA. Esther ran with a full scholarship (mid-distances) for the Missouri Track & Field team and became All-Big 12 Honoree her first year. Read below about her experience with the recruiting process and her time in college.

Esther, could you tell us a bit about your background?
I grew up in a little village called "Lewedorp" which is located in the Dutch province Zeeland. Since the age of 14 Track & Field has always been my passion and after highschool I moved to Rotterdam to improve as an athlete and to compete for Rotterdam Track Club while pursuing a bachelor Logistics and Economics degree in Breda. I improved a lot athletically at this club and competed in many national and some international tournaments. When I completed my bachelors degree in 2009, I had the opportunity to accept a full scholarship at one of the American universities. I finally decided to go to the University of Missouri and had a great experience up there! Graduation for my masters degree was in December 2010 and I decided to go to Australia for 3 months right after that. While down under, I focused on track training and traveling. I came back to Holland three weeks ago so after some big journey's... I'm back on Dutch surface!!


In 2009 you decided to pursue your Masters’ degree in America. What were your reasons to take this step?
I wasn't ready to trade in my running spikes for a job. I would love to start a career, but I just wasn't ready yet at 21 years old. I had a huge desire to travel, but never went for a semester abroad during my bachelors because that would have hurt the preparation for the Dutch season in track. I knew I would have a great coach, team, and facilities when I would go to the States as a student-athlete. Knowing that going abroad would fulfill my desire to travel as well as help me improve in my sport made the decision much easier! I was also happy that I could improve my English language skills and felt privileged to have the opportunity to attend such a well-organized track program.

You eventually ended up in Missouri at the University of Missouri on a full Track & Field scholarship. Could you tell us what made you decide to go to this university?
Haha I had this question so many times, and lots of people were surprised why I picked Missouri out of all places. I could have gone to a coast-school in California or experienced a climate-friendlier state such as Texas or Georgia. I could have gone to Reno, Nevada on full and I was talking to Arizona as well. However I became a Tiger at Mizzou. I had the best feeling there, even though I hadn't been in the United States ever before. I also had a very good feeling about the track program. It seemed really serious, well-organized and I felt that my coach wanted the best for me. This feeling never changed when I was running for Mizzou. Coach always was looking after her athletes really well, and paid a lot of attention to injury prevention. Oh, I'm so glad I picked Missouri!!

What were some of the biggest challenges during the recruiting process for you?
I had quite a bit of challenges!! I didn't know about MADE Scholarships when I was recruited. There are so many leagues with so many rules that I didn't know about and it took a while to find out whether or not I would be eligible after my bachelor graduation. Also I did not know what tests to take and I had to figure everything out with my coach, who had many talks with other "NCAA wizards" about eligibility and such. It took a long time and I did a lot of extra work and research that was unnecessary in the end. I believe that MADE can make the whole recruiting process a lot less stressful for the athlete, and that's why I decided to become the Dutch Agent for MADE Scholarships. Making a smooth transition will be much less time consuming and less stressful, allowing the athlete to keep improving on athletic and academic performances.

You were studying and living with athletes while you were in college. Can you share a little bit about your experience?
I lived with four other track athletes in a house off-campus. I decided to live off-campus because I would be much older than the freshmen in the dorms on-campus. We did not have a lot of internationals at Mizzou, which was good for me because it allowed me to have a true American experience. I did not see one Dutch person during my stay, which did wonders for my English. Also, my American roommates were super excited to have a European girl in their team and house. Everybody invited me to their home, wanted to spend time with me and kept asking questions about windmills and wooden shoes. To make this short: I had so much fun with my roommates and I still talk to them on a weekly basis.

How was your experience balancing your class schedule with practice and competition?
Yes that was great, and so much better than in Holland. Practice, school and my house were all within a one-mile distance from each other. It seems unnecessary but I even had a car there, which means that I didn't get tired except for during practice and competition. I could totally focus on athletics and academics, and I almost never had class conflicts. And if there are conflicts with classes and exams, in general professors admire athletes and when you communicate with them, you usually find a way to make it work.

How well did college prepare you for a (semi) professional career in track & field?
I believe that the American college system is the best to prepare an athlete for a professional career in their sport. Although I do think that Holland has a great system for athletes who have graduated, combining school and sports in the Netherlands is really challenging. In the States, academics and athletics are provided by the same institution, which makes things easier. There is also MUCH more money involved in the American college sports.

What are your future goals for your track career?
My goals are to continue competing on the national level, break my own personal records, win National medals individually and in Relays, keep winning the National Team Championships with Rotterdam Atletiek, and compete with the team in the European Club Cup. I think it's important for me to keep enjoying my running career while focusing on starting my work career.

Do you have any advice for young motivated European athletes who are thinking about studying in the U.S.?
Go. No, I mean: GOGOGOGO! Do not hesitate about going to the States and get the student-athlete experience. Have phone calls with your potential coaches, research the programs you might become a member of, and go with your feeling. Don't focus so much on the location, the money, the status, or the university where previous athletes from your country went to. Pick a university with a good athletic and academic program, and have FUN!!

What advice would you give young players who are thinking about turning professional after college?
Do it and don't care about what other people say. You might miss some money/income if it doesn't work out. But if you believe that you have the potential to break through, then go for it!! You'll always regret it if you don't try. You can work on your career goals later, but becoming a top-athlete might be difficult once you hit your fifties.



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