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For the love of the game
Yasmin Mossadegi
Posted Date: 7/2/2014



See the article here:  Orange County Register

YMossadeghiLauren Schoenherr packed four bags and left for Chemnitz, Germany, to play professional volleyball for nine months.

It was 2005. A few months earlier, Schoenherr – formerly Lauren Goins – had graduated from Cal State Fullerton as the only Titan to amass 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs.

Arriving in Germany, street signs looked like symbols. Songs on the radio sounded like muffled noise. Volleyball was the only language she knew.

The outside hitter was excited to play overseas, even if Germans laughed at the flip flops she wore throughout the rough, cobblestoned city.

“Like every kid I had always kind of idolized people like Mia Hamm or Michael Jordan,” Schoenherr said. “I was like, ‘Wow they get to play sports for a living?’ That’s something I wanted to do, but didn’t even fathom that was an option for me.”

Many young women don’t view professional sports as a viable option because few opportunities exist in the United States, despite the boom in amateur participation rates.

“At the youth, high school and the collegiate level, women’s sports are just exploding,” said Jaime Schultz, an assistant professor at Penn State University specializing in gender and sport. “It just strikes me as so sad that we can’t sort of transition that participatory experience into being consumers of women’s sport.”

There is no indoor professional volleyball league. Though basketball, soccer and softball have pro leagues, there are few spots: 12 basketball teams, nine soccer teams and four softball teams.

And because league salaries are meager, U.S. pro players play overseas in the offseason to generate income.

Many former Cal State Fullerton female athletes like Schoenherr have thrived abroad.

The most famous Titan abroad is Karen Bardsley, who is currently a goalkeeper for Manchester City Women in England. She competed at CSUF from 2002 to 2006.

Softball All-Americans Yasmin Mossadeghi (1999-02) and Gina Oaks (2000-03) have played in five countries combined. And at the moment, Ann Marie Tangorra (2011-12) is playing soccer in Switzerland and Leah Best (2011-13) is playing volleyball in Sweden.

These women know that pro ball doesn’t last forever and it doesn’t always pay the bills, but with a plane ticket, passport and good knees, why not chase that dream around the word?
Expectations overseas

It’s easy to spot them down the street in other countries.

“Mostly everyone looks at us different because we are American,” said Tangorra, 23.