Christian Dietrich from College Athlete to Managing Director

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This week, MADE Scholarships will highlight the college experience of former college tennis player Christian Dietrich. Christian is a former student athlete of Georgia State University, Atlanta, USA, playing on a tennis scholarship for the GSU tennis team. He combines a passion for tennis and overall fitness with over 16 years of experience in sales, marketing, and general management of multinational companies in FMCG, and premium health and leisure products. Christian is currently the Managing Director of Technogym Emirates LLC, responsible for running the fully operational subsidiary in the UAE. Read below about the college experience of Christian.

Christian could you tell us a bit about your tennis background?
I have been playing tennis since the age of 7 and I immediately created a love for the game. Although I never had the level to turn pro, I always had the urge to improve my game and to compete. Tennis has been playing a major role throughout my life and it helped me develop as a person and I even benefit from it in my professional career.

In 1990 you decided to pursue your Bachelor and Master degree in America. What were your reasons to take this step?
When I graduated high school I went on to pursue a bachelor degree in Groningen, the Netherlands. I joined the university club but soon found out that the possibility to practice on a regular basis was limited and very costly. When a friend of mine pointed out the opportunity to play college tennis in the USA and I visited him during the semester I was convinced. Especially since it was my goal to study abroad for a year. That one year abroad became eventually 9 years.

You eventually ended up in Atlanta at Georgia State University on a full tennis scholarship, could you tell us what made you decide to go to this university?
Friend of mine had a scholarship there, and while visiting him the coach offered me a full scholarship as well, so I took it! Since I hadn’t really explored the idea before in a serious manner, I didn’t even look at any other places, just went with this offer, plus Atlanta seemed like a good place to combine studies and tennis, a nice metropolitan city in the warm Southeast, all fit perfectly.


What were some of the biggest challenges during the recruiting process for you?
In this instance there weren’t so many, but that was because I travelled to the US, which took away all possible ambiguity regarding the place you end up in, the people you have to work with etc, everything was already known to me, including some of the players, so a bit of an unusual situation. I have to admit that just doing this long distance over letters and a few phone calls could seem quite daunting I can imagine.


You were studying and living with international athletes while you were in college. Can you share a little bit about your experience?

An amazing experience. Most of the people on my team came to my wedding, which was quite some time after these college days, but we still keep up with each other, despite the fact that we all live in different corners of the world now. It was great fun to have people from different backgrounds around you, you develop a different view on things as people you get to know bring different perspectives with them. Not to mention the fun we had on all the road trips, sharing stories from all over the world, unbelievable. Sometimes of course you had to adapt yourself to different cultural influences as well, but all in all a great experience.


Was it easy for you to balance your class schedule with practice and competition?

Not just fine, excellent! Nothing better after classes than to have a good hit, then back to the books or perhaps an evening class, it was great for me. If you schedule properly you get a real nice rhythm in the week, making the combination quite bearable. Of course sometimes there were some challenging periods with lots of matches and a lot of time on the road, but it forced you to schedule your time properly, a learning in itself.


How well did this experience of being a student athlete prepare you for your professional career in business?
In my opinion it makes you a better student and more well-rounded, you just get so much more out of your time in college. The matches you play make you mentally tougher, you go through ups and downs and take away certain lessons that you can apply to the business world as well.

Do you have any advice for young motivated European athletes who are thinking about studying in the U.S.?
Get good advice and help from any possible source that knows about how this works. E.g. check with athletes that have gone through the experience, use an agency, ask around as much as you can what others have seen and heard, so you can create a picture in your mind what it would be like and if that matches what you’re looking for. If you can, visit and travel, especially if you’ve never been before.

What advice would you give young players who are thinking about going professional after college?
In that case, make sure you’re really aware of the US college rankings and find out whether the places you’re considering have any good experience in preparing players for a professional career. If you are that serious, where you end up in college does matter I believe, it will be best to aim high and surround yourself with a caliber of people that are quite serious about the sport and perhaps even likeminded in their goals.




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