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Russian Tennis Player Starts Business to Help International Athletes

evgenia-marushkoEvgenia Marushko has always loved tennis and trained at a professional level since childhood. As a teenager, she was deciding what to do with her tennis career. In Russia and most other countries in the world, there’s no college team sports. That means athletes have to either play professionally and hope that they are one of the few exceptions who makes it, or quit their sport and enroll at a local university.

A third option for international athletes is to enroll at an American university and apply for athletic scholarships so they can play the sport they love and enjoy a fully paid education, which is what Marushko pursued.

“I had no idea how to get recruited into universities in the US, so my family paid a sports agency that connected me with SUU,” said Marushko. “After coming to Cedar City, I realized that there were many schools that I fit both athletically and academically that my agency never put me in touch with. I started doing research on sports recruitment and found out that sports agencies charge $2,000-$5,000 for their services and that those athletes who try to get recruited independently fail 70% of the time.”

Marushko knew there had to be a solution to make it easier for athletes from different countries to get a quality and fully paid education in the US. She drew from her personal experience to create College Athletes USA, an interactive website that enables athletes worldwide to be recruited into American universities. With the help of mentors like Rich Christiansen, a member of the SUU Board of Trustees, Curtis Blair, Principal at Hoodoo Capital, and Tyler Stillman, SUU Director of Entrepreneurship, Marushko has raised over $8,000 for her business and recently launched her website CollegeAthletesUSA.com.

“If it wasn’t for SUU, I wouldn’t have been able to progress so far with my business,” said Marushko. “My mentors have been tremendously helpful in refining the idea.”

Marushko was also born into an entrepreneurial family, so her parents have been crucial in her new business venture. Her mom had the initial idea of creating a service to help athletes study in the US and her father co-wrote Marushko’s business plan with her and found a web developer to start creating her website.

evgenia-marushko-tennis“I hope College Athletes USA will help athletes and universities alike,” said Marushko. “My website will save athletes thousands of dollars they are paying to sports agencies and will increase their chances of getting recruited. Athletes from around the world will have access to high quality and affordable education while pursuing their sports goals.”

To build the website, Marushko had to curate a database of more than 500 NCAA-sponsored universities, research NCAA rules, visa application rules and understand how the recruitment process differs between sports.

“Evgenia gained insights from her experience as an athlete that she leveraged into a tremendous business idea,” said Tyler Stillman, SUU Director of Entrepreneurship. “She’s also fiercely competitive and that is a trait that will serve her well as she executes this idea. I wouldn’t bet against her.”

College Athletes USA has already helped several athletes receive full scholarship offers from universities like UC Davis and University of Washington, among others. Marushko has competed in several business competitions, winning the Best Business Idea Competition and placing in the top 8 at the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, for which she teamed up with her partner Donald Long.

“Playing tennis at SUU has changed my life and I can’t wait to share similar opportunities with athletes across the world,” said Marushko.

The Entrepreneurship Program at SUU promotes transformative educational experiences and financial well-being through new venture creation. The program connects students with business mentors, hosts monthly networking events, and provides necessary support and counseling services in finance, partner facilitation, marketing, legal and human resources. Students of all majors interested in starting a business can join the Entrepreneurship Club or contact Tyler Stillman at tylerstillman@suu.edu.


     

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