In this week’s University Spotlight, we take a look at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina where the 22-year-old Slamstox tennis player Sanne Janssen is part of the ‘Bears’!

After Sanne obtained her high school diploma at Porta Mosana College in Maastricht, she left Maastricht for Hickory, North Carolina to make her dream come true. She is now a ‘senior’ and therefore an experienced student athlete. We asked Sanne to tell us something about her time at Lenoir-Rhyne:

“I’m really thankful for the opportunity I got to study at Lenoir-Rhyne as I grew as a person: academically, athletically and socially. There is a great diversity of international students as well as American students who I now see as my family away from home.”

Sanne Jansen – Student-Athlete

Do you want to know more about this university in North-Carolina? Keep reading! 

The Campus

Since 1891, Lenoir-Rhyne University (LRU) is known as the ‘private university’ of Hickory, North Carolina. Almost 3000 students are part of the university.

LRU is an Evangelical Lutheran school with traditional Christian influences, which is reflected in the beautiful chapel on the campus and the slogan of the university:

“The truth shall set you free”

In addition to the campus in Hickory, the university also has campuses in Columbia and Asheville. During the first year, students are required to live on campus, but that is certainly not a punishment! In addition to many beautiful school buildings and study rooms, there are also 60 different student clubs on campus.

Lenoir-Rhyne makes every effort to provide the best home base for the student athletes and that includes, as they say, ‘state-of-art’ facilities. Most of the facilities have been renovated in the last 4 years, check out this page where all can be found.

Would you like to see more about the campus? Check out the video below! Also, you can check out the virtual tour made by the university


LRU’s varsity sports teams are known as ‘the bears’ and play in the NCAA Division 2. The bears consist of 11 men’s and 12 women’s teams of which nearly all teams compete in the South Atlantic Conference. The university colors are black and red, in addition, the bears have two mascots: Josie & Joe Bear! View the duo in the photo on the right.

LRU previously participated within the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, better known as the NAIA. The LRU American Football team managed to win the championship within the NAIA in 1960, the women’s basketball team did so in 1980 and the male basketball team in 1992. Later the teams moved to the NCAA Division 2 competition, where the American Football team played for the first the championship final.

Recently, the LRU softball team made it to the NCAA Division 2 playoffs 6 times, in 2010 and 2011 they reached the Southeast Region Finals! They are characterized as LRU’s most successful team. Go girls! See a photo of the ‘Bear Soccer Girls’ in the photo beneath.

Both LRU’s male and female basketball teams have both achieved postseason play several times in recent years. The women participated in the Southeast Region Tournament in 2009.

Great performance of the Bears! But beyond the university’s varsity teams, there are also two different ‘club sports’. Those are the triathlon and weight lifting. Both for men and women. Cool right!


LRU offers 50 bachelor and almost 30 master majors. In 2018, the university’s first doctoral program was offered. Would you like to see an overview of the different courses that LRU offers? Check out this list!

Besides studying and sports, there are also many other activities for students on campus. As a student, there is the possibility to join the debate team or the theater program and way more. The university also has its own ‘a capella singing group’

We have listed a number of quick facts here. Did you know…

  • The average GPA on LRU is 3.41? 17% of the students even has a GPA higher than 3.75!
  • 59% of the students are women at LRU?
  • The average SAT Math score of students on LRU is 530?

Do you want to become a student athlete in the USA, just like Sanne? Or are you curious about your options? Reach out!