In this interview, you can read more about the experiences of Slamstox Track & Field athlete Kalieb Redda as a student-athlete in America. Kalieb has been involved in Track & Field for years but made the move to America last summer, where he now competes for the Columbia College team. At this university, he combines his Track & Field career with his studies. Want to know more? Read on below!

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I am Kalieb Redda, 23 years old, born and raised in Leeuwarden. I have a younger and an older brother, both of whom also live in Leeuwarden. I began my studies at Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, where I studied Sports Science. After completing my first year, I moved to America to continue my sports and academic career here.

What is your academic and sports background?
After high school, I completed a four-year vocational education (MBO) program. Then I went to Hanze University of Applied Sciences to start my higher professional education (HBO). Sports have always played an important role in my life. I played soccer from the age of five until I was eighteen. At eighteen/nineteen, I switched to athletics, where I truly discovered my passion for sports, partly thanks to the encouragement of my father.

Where did you train before going to America?
Before going to America, I trained with JJ Running Friesland. The coaches there taught me a lot, from the basic principles of running to tactical race strategies. I am very grateful for their guidance.

How have you experienced your time in America so far?
My first year in America is coming to an end, and I am now focused on qualifying for Nationals in the 1500 meters and the 4×800 meters with my teammates.

I have made many friends here, both within and outside my team. The people here in Columbia, Missouri, are very friendly, and I feel truly welcome. The strong relationship with my coach has also been invaluable. He is very involved with the team and places great importance on a close-knit group dynamic. I have really enjoyed my first year here. I have not only improved my athletic skills but also broadened my overall horizons.

Can you describe what an average day looks like for you?
At school, we have two semesters of sixteen weeks each. My schedule is fixed per semester, and my coach and I adjust my training schedule based on my classes.

A typical day in my last semester looked like this: I wake up at 8:30 AM and go to the cafeteria for breakfast. After that, I have my first class of the day at 9:30 AM, followed by a session in the gym for my strength training. After lunch, I go back to my room to freshen up for my last class of the day, which starts at 2:00 PM. After this class, I change and head to my team practice at 3:45 PM, which ends around 5:15 PM. Then, I go with my team to the cafeteria for dinner. I often stay long with my teammates to chat, so I usually get back to my room around 7:00 PM. There, I take a shower, do some homework, and that’s how my day comes to an end.

How do you spend a day off?
On days off, I usually still have a training session, so I’m never completely free. Fortunately, we have a close-knit team, so when we’re all free from school, we usually plan something fun together, like going to the movies, golfing, bowling, or just playing games at someone’s house.

How do you see the upcoming years and what are your goals you still want to achieve?
I feel very much at home here and have full confidence from my coach. My goal is to strive for qualification for Nationals every year, both for cross country and track and field. I not only want to qualify, but also achieve an All-American status for track and field.

What is the biggest difference in America compared to the Netherlands in terms of school and education?
There are certainly differences between the education systems in America and the Netherlands, particularly in terms of grading and the opportunity to earn extra credits. In the Netherlands, we receive grades on a scale of 1 to 10, while in America, letter grades are used, with an A being equivalent to 100%. It’s also common for instructors to offer the opportunity to earn extra credits, allowing you to improve your overall score.

What tip would you give to people who are hesitant about going to America?
It’s definitely a big step to leave everything and everyone behind and go to America alone, so I would say: really think it through. Also, talk to other people about it, not just your parents.

What really helped is that I spoke with other Dutch athletes who were already studying in America because, of course, you want to know all the exciting things waiting for you in America. But you also have to remember that there can be less enjoyable aspects. For me, that was mainly missing my family. I struggled with this especially during my first 2 to 3 months. What helped me was that I went back to the Netherlands for three weeks around Christmas and New Year’s.

As a final tip, I want to emphasize that you should remember what you’re leaving behind. Now that you’re on the other side of the world, keeping in touch with the people you love in the Netherlands becomes increasingly difficult. I’ve heard this from other athletes I’ve spoken with as well. However, on the flip side, you also make friends very quickly in America. Americans are very open, and if you’re open yourself and engage with your surroundings, you’ll make friends very quickly and feel at home in no time.

What is your most memorable experience you’ve had in America so far?
My most memorable experience so far was during the Thanksgiving break when I went to my teammate’s home. He lives in the countryside, and there I experienced real American rural life, including deer hunting. Afterward, we went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, for a short vacation with his family.

How was your experience working with Slamstox?
My experience with Slamstox was excellent. My contact person, Thijs, has been very helpful from the start and never made me feel rushed in making decisions. The Slamstox app was also very convenient because everything was explained step by step, making it easy to arrange things. If I had any trouble, I could always send a message and get prompt assistance.

If you, like Kalieb, also want to combine your sport and studies in America, please fill out this form and we will gladly contact you to discuss your options.