Playing 5th year as a fresh face at UD

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Sarata Bello, graduate cyber intelligence student in the 4+1 program and #12 on the women’s soccer team, joins the field for her fifth year as an international transfer student. Graduating from Lincoln University with an undergraduate degree in Human Services, Bello committed to University of Dallas for the graduate program before contacting Lexi Stinson, the head coach of the women’s soccer team.

Bello became aware of UD through her college recruiting process. At first, she was impressed by UD’s emphasis on academic excellences, the interactive campus environment and the athletic programs, specifically the women’s soccer program. With the opportunity of having both academics and athletics, Bello took it with the passion to keep playing.

“Playing soccer definitely played a big impact on my decision to go to UD. Having the chance to keep playing my favorite sport at a graduate level was a huge factor in my decision,” Bello said. “The success of the soccer program, the great coaches, and the chance to play against the best teams were all factors that helped me decide to join the UD soccer program.”

With this decision, Bello began her first year at UD with a strong support from the university. Bello praised UD’s resources in making the transition as smooth as well as making her feel welcomed.

“The university offers various resources and programs specifically designed to help international students adjust to a new culture, overcome language barriers and navigate the challenges of studying abroad,” Bello commented. “The sense of community and inclusiveness at UD has made me feel welcomed and supported throughout my journey as an international student athlete.”

Bello’s schedule is very challenging though. She not only commutes everyday for about two hours to and from UD but she also needs time to study, do assignments, practice and potentially play in away games. Thankfully, the athletic department is flexible with her schedule. Coach Stinson and the athletic trainers work together to make practices and training flexible for Bello. This way she is able to follow NCAA regulations as well as maintain her academic and athletic obligations.

“Probably the biggest thing in [Bello] being able to play is our coaching staff being flexible with her,” Stinson said. “Because she is an international student she has to attend classes in person. Classes are at the same time as training sometimes so we have had to be flexible.”

Bello is very thankful for this support as an international student and student athlete.

Bello said, “The coaches and trainers, as well as the staff, have been invaluable in providing me with the resources and support I need to succeed in both my academic and athletic endeavors.”

Finally, Bello’s unconditional support from her family, friends and academic advisor are really encouraging for her mentally.

“My family and friends are always there for me no matter what I’m going through in my academic or athletic life,” Bello shared. “They give me their support and understanding and they’re always there for me when I’m feeling down. Their faith in me and their emotional support have been really helpful.”

Despite the fact that Bello is a fresh face to the women’s team and to UD, she fits right in with the team. Coach Stinson praises her ability to spread her energy to the team with her personality and playing style.

“Energy! [Bello] is always bringing a smile to teammates’ faces and causing them to laugh,” Stinson commented. “International players often play a little different style than Americans. She has a flare and creativity about her when she plays.”

Additionally, Bello’s enthusiasm and commitment are her most admirable traits on and off the field, according to Coach Stinson.

Bello’s advice for any considering 5th year of being a graduate student athlete is to reflect on the sport, academic or work commitments, and personal balance of one’s life.

“See if it would bring you joy, satisfaction, and make a positive impact on your graduate experience. Think about your time commitments, talk to coaches and advisors and weigh the pros and cons. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and keeping a healthy balance between school, sports and your personal life,” Bello said. “Being a grad student athlete can be tough, both mentally and physically. Take care of yourself and reach out for help when you need it.”

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