Babette Burgersdijk, a tennis talent from ‘s-Gravenzande who turned 19 earlier this month, lives, trains and studies in Lafayette, Louisiana. There, she is part of the ‘Ragin Cajuns’ as a student athlete. Time to put the University of Louisiana Lafayette (ULL) in the spotlight!
Babette does not get the tennis talent from a stranger, she comes from an enthusiastic tennis family. Babette’s father used to play many national tournaments. Babette was 5 years old when she started playing tennis herself, until she was 12 she also played field hockey. When she stopped doing that, she started training 6 times a week at her father’s tennis school, Burgersdijk Tennis.
She always played competition, competed in national and JRT tournaments, in Tennis Europe tournaments and played ITF tournaments. Her highest ranking in the Netherlands was 6th U14. Last year Babette also received her VWO diploma, this made her ready to leave for the USA! She is now working hard at ULL, where her second semester has just started. What a champ!
We asked Babette if the campus is as she expected it, she says the following:
“When I came here it really surprised me how big and beautiful the campus is. The buildings and facilities are really out of the ordinary. I really did not expect that so many people are involved in the university. Wherever you walk in Lafayette, everyone wears sweaters and shirts from ULL.”
Babette Burgersdijk – student-athlete
Want to know more about ULL? Keep reading!
ULL is located in Lafayette, a city of about 620,000 inhabitants. The campus looks special, with beautiful buildings and perfectly maintained gardens. You can see the campus in the picture below.
A special feature of the university are the various beautiful trees that can be found there, these are called ‘Century Oaks’, as they were planted in the early 20th century by the first president of the school, Edwin Stephens. Like a fairytale, right?!
Another special feature of the university is ‘the Cypress Lake’, which can be found in the middle of the campus. It is a lake of about 0.8 hectares with many beautiful flowers, but also turtles, fish, birds and, oh yes, alligators too! Whut ?! Yep, Babette is at a university with alligators. We are convinced that not many student athletes can say that!
There is plenty to do in and around the campus for ULL students and residents. From zumba classes to live performances, it is all organized on campus. There is also an art museum and film nights are regularly organized. ‘Movies in the parc’, an event where visitors gather in Parc International for a good film evening in the open air!
In addition to fun activities, also a number of cool traditions can be found at the university, we list a few below:
- Wearing red
A tradition with the color of the university. Every Friday, students, teachers and fans dress in red for the ‘school spirit’.
- Block party
This event is held during the first week of the new ‘fall’ season. There are fun games for students to play, there are even small competitions (for fun) and students can get free shirts, bags and cups. Sounds like a great first week of classes!
- Crawlfish boil
It seems that the students of ULL love lobster, so the university has of course come up with something for that. Once a year an event is organized where the university cooks 10,000 pounds of lobster! A free meal for students with a lot of music, dancing and above all, laughter.
- Langniappe week/Lake Jump
‘Something extra’, that’s what this week is all about. Fun activities on the water such as canoeing, all activities are of course organized on cypress lake. One student also jumps into the lake every year to end the semester. A tradition that has been going on since 1977. Would you dare, among those gators? In any case, no toes have been lost so far!
- Walk of Honor
A last beautiful tradition is the ‘Walk of Honor’, where current students walk along a route where all the names of alumni can be seen in the tiles on the floor. This shows that all alumni remain part of the university!
Most sports facilities for the teams are off campus, including the tennis park where Babette trains. But the university has of course thought about this carefully, each team has its own shuttle bus! They are used to drive them from the campus to the sports parks.
Like many American universities, ULL also has some cool sports facilities. The ‘Cajundome’, where the basketball matches are held, but other events are often organized as well. The stadium can hold 13,500 spectators! You can see the stadium below
The ‘Cajun Field’ is another special facility on campus, it is the home base for the American Football teams. As in many other universities, this is also an important sport at ULL. Here, as many as 41,426 spectators can cheer on the team at the same time! Cool huh!
The ‘Donald and Janice Mosing student-athlete Performance Center’, another special facility. Also called ‘SAPC’, it was built in 2015 and several different stuff can be found in the building. Offices, a mega-sized gym, a special training room for athletics and hydrotherapy and a lecture hall with 150 seats!
Do you want to see more? Check out this virtual tour!
The student athletes teams at ULL are called the Ragin Cajuns. In total there are 14 teams, 7 men and 7 women teams. Sports have been going on at the ULL since 1901, at the time the sports teams were known as ‘The Bulldogs’, in 1974 the name officially changed to Ragin Cajuns. The sports teams compete within NCAA Divsion 1 and are members of the Sun Belt Conference. The university colors are red and white and of course this university also has a mascot, Cayenne! You will wonder, why Cayenne? But that has been thought about! The food in the area around the university is often prepared spicy, hence this appropriate ‘cayenne pepper’ as a mascot. Depending on the match that Cayenne visits, he dresses, because he wears the team uniform of the team he is encouraging!
With a special sports atmosphere, beautiful teams, a mascot and many fans, of course, a fight song also belongs! See the lyrics of the fight song encouraging the Ragin Cajuns here:
Fight on, Cajuns, fight on to victory
For the Red and White,
We will sing of triumph and glory,
For our team tonight,
You will hear the rage of the Cajuns,
So let’s give a yell,
Hustle up and bustle up and
Fight on to victory – Geaux UL
The Ragin Cajuns have already achieved many successes. The baseball team played its first game in 1903! Since 1972, the team has been part of Division 1. Since then the team has won the regular season conference 16 times and the conference tournament 7 times, the last championship was in 2016. The team participated 15 times in the NCAA tournament!
The tennis teams, of which Babette is now also a part, also have many titles to their name. The men won the Southland Conference championship 6 times (of which the teams were first lis) and 4 times the Sun Belt championship. The team achieved the highest national ranking in 1988, when they became 15th of the USA! The ladies managed to win the conference title 4 times and achieved the highest national ranking in 2006 at place 51. To be continued, Babette!
Besides the teams of student athletes, there are also various ‘non-varsity sports’ at the university. Examples are badminton, bowling, cheerleading, judo, powerlifting, sports shooting, taekwondo and water skiing! Many of these sports teams also participate in competitions, which is how the water skiers achieved great successes. In 1989 they competed for the first time in the annual NCSWA championships. There, the team never finished lower than 3rd since 1993 and they won the championship 7 times! Cool right?
Want to know more about athletics at ULL? Check out the Athletic Page!
Many different degree programs and majors are offered at ULL. Too many to name all. So are you curious whether the study program you want to do is offered at the university? ULL has made a nice video for that! Check it out here.
Of course we have some fun facts about the GPAs of the student athletes at ULL. Facts are that:
- 57% of student athletes (212 in total) have a GPA of 3.0+.
- A total of 29 student athletes have a GPA of 4.0!
- A GPA of 2.97 is average among all student athletes.
Not sure what a GPA is? You can read that in this post on our wiki-page!
Do you, just like Babette, want to become student-athlete in the USA? Or do you want more information about the life of a student-athlete? Reach out!