They come from all around the United States for various reasons, but student athletes from Alaska, Missouri, Iowa, New York and many other places come to Stevens Point and proudly wear the Pointers jersey.
There are 282 University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point athletes on men’s teams. 24 percent of them are not from Wisconsin. Of the 230 female athletes, 23.5 percent don’t call Wisconsin home.
Almost every team at UWSP has at least one out of state athlete on their team. Both men’s and women’s hockey have the highest percentage of out-of-state talent, with 78 and 65 percent, respectively.
This is a common trend in Division I programs, but it is becoming more prevalent in Division III programs.
Why would so many come to the small town of Stevens Point to play their sport? There are a quite a few answers to that question.
Both senior golfer Olivia Schiefelbein, from Iowa, and sophomore cross-country runner, Chandler Mellon, from New York, chose UWSP because of its outstanding academic standing.
“I am a wildlife major. UWSP is the best for that,” Mellon said.
Schiefelbein echoed that sentiment, saying, “I came to Stevens Point for the Natural Resource Program here.”
For most athletes, the level of talent involved and the opportunity to play for a successful program are big reasons why UWSP is appealing.
“I chose to come to Stevens Point instead of a college in my home state of Missouri because of the level of hockey played here,” said Sean Gammage, a freshman defender on the hockey team.
Some athletes come to UWSP because of the great coaching staffs that the university has assembled.
“When Coach Brooks called and was interested in recruiting me, I looked into the school and thought it seemed like a great opportunity,” said Josh Daley, a sophomore forward on the hockey team from Pittsburgh, PA.
Many students have multiple reasons for attending this university, like sophomore swimmer Tessa Hasbrouck.
Hasbrouck is from Petersburg, AL. She came to UWSP because of its outstanding natural resources program, its small-school feel, and the solid swim program.
“I wanted to go somewhere I had never been to before, and Wisconsin was one of those places,” Hasbrouck said.
Considering the change in scenery and lifestyle to their previous homes, it’s understandable that many of these athletes needed some time to transition to the Wisconsin culture.
“Words used like ‘bubbler’ and ‘tennis shoes’ were very foreign to me,” Mellon said.
“The biggest difference is the size of Stevens Point,” Gammage said. “It was way smaller than St. Louis.”
Daley, a transfer student from Penn State University, enjoys the small number of students. “I find it’s easier for me to get around campus and have a better one-on-one relationship with some of my teachers,” Daley said.
For Hasbrouck, she had to get used to many things, coming from a small community of just 3,000 people in her town. “There were more people on my swim team than there was in my graduating class,” Hasbrouck said.
“I had never spent time in a deciduous forest, had never stopped a car at a stoplight and had never heard of Black Friday shopping,” Hasbrouck said.
But one of the biggest changes for Hasbrouck was the Debot food. “I’m used to eating a lot of seafood,” Hasbrouck said. “Debot caused a major food-oriented culture shock.”
Even with all of the changes, the athletes agree that the Stevens Point community is a very welcoming and friendly place to call home for nine months out of the year.
“I have met and become friends with some really great people up here,” said Schiefelbein. “The atmosphere around campus is pretty cool, too. You get to know a lot of people and make new friends every day,” Daley said.
“I’ve found that I’m particularly fond of cows,” said Hasbrouck. “There are many more choices in Stevens Point, WI, compared to Petersburg, AL.”
Students love the atmosphere and friendliness of Stevens Point, but everyone eventually misses home a little bit, and being far away can mean missing it more.
“I really miss my family, especially my niece, my dogs and close friends,” Mellon said. “Parents, grandparents and my brother are a big part of my life,” Daley said. “It gets a little difficult at times not having that chance to see them as much as I would like to.”
“I miss the ocean and the salty breeze, the nest of mountains that surround and the glorious amounts of seafood,” Hasbrouck said. “I miss sea kayaking, fog in the morning, watching sea lions swim and walking through the harbor at night.”
Everyone in college misses someone or something along the line, but there are support systems to make you feel better, and that’s no different for the athletic teams.
“Playing on the hockey team here helps you through, because it kind of puts you in a ‘family’ here,” Gammage said.
Being so far away from home, the athletes don’t get to see family very often, but many have family in the area.
“I am only a couple hours away from my grandparents, Schiefelbein said. “It is nothing to head down to see them for the weekend, which is great.”
Sometimes families even travel to UWSP to support their athletes. “Some of my family will visit here a couple times, though, to watch some of my hockey games,” Gammage said.
Just remember, whether they’re just across the way in Minnesota or all the way from Alaska, make our athletes, and all of the out-of-state students, feel welcome here in our great state of Wisconsin.