Carlijn de Bie details her journey from the Netherlands to the United States

Written By Antonio Rossetti, Co-Sports Editor

Carlijn de Bie made the decision to travel across the world from Hilversum, Netherlands all the way to Pittsburgh

, PA to attend Point Park University and run for the cross country team.

When she arrived, she was met by Pioneer women’s team captain Alyssa Campbell at the Pittsburgh International Airport.

The team has now competed in 2 meets in which De Bie found success early, as she has finished within the top 5 of the team in both meets and her decision to move to Point Park was not a difficult decision for her.

In the Netherlands, there was an organization called Slamstox that linked athletes from the Netherlands to colleges in the United States. A member of the organization helped connect her with Point Park.

“She reached out to me and said, ‘this might be a good school for you,’” De Bie said. “‘Would you be interested?’ She reached out to coach Creamer and then we had a zoom call. I really liked him as a coach and liked what the school stood for. And I spoke with the girls on the team and they were very nice. I already felt welcome.”

Adjusting to the city’s atmosphere was not an issue for her. There were some moments when she felt uncomfortable living in the city, but she was ready for what Pittsburgh had in store for her.

De Bie also felt at ease with the move because the freshman made it easier as they also were learning about Point Park and living on campus.

Nevertheless, there were some challenges in moving home.

“Leaving the people, my family, and my boyfriend,” De Bie said. “They still live back home and my sisters and all my friends. That was the hardest part of leaving.”

De Bie misses seeing her family at races. Her older sister, Rosan, and her twin sister, Iris have been her biggest supporters throughout. Her father, Robert, and her mother, Maartje gave her a strong support system that helped her throughout her running career.

“I used to go to races with my mother,” De Bie said. “They were just always there. It was also always very nice and they just gave so much up for me to come here and also like my sisters, they’re very proud. And I think that’s yeah, it’s nice that they’re proud. I know that they miss me but I feel like they want me to do what I like to do.”

What De Bie likes to do is run and her mother inspired her to run. Maartje ran a marathon this year and De Bie noted that without her, she wouldn’t be at Point Park if it wasn’t for her help.

As for running at Point Park, there is a huge difference between running in the United States compared to the Netherlands.

“We don’t have a sports team at our high schools or college, so I didn’t run for them.,” De Bie said. “But I was with a different outside team just like a hobby, like a dance club, maybe here or just sporting teams that you can just join. It’s more of a free time.”

De Bie didn’t have the chance to run with a team that was all her age group at her high school Alberdingk Thijm College since they didn’t have a team. Nonetheless, she did runin a running club, but the ages varied as it ranged throughout all age groups.

“I started very young, but now I’m the oldest,” De Bie said. “And there are more 9-year-olds and 10-year-olds and so it’s nice to have more of my own age. I have my own little friend group that also goes there and are all my age, but I think it’s just very like it’s a very diverse team here.”

Point Park is a different running environment and she likes being able to run with people her age. She also enjoys seeing how many different types of runners there are in the United States.

Another different aspect of cross country in the United States was running in a conference and competing as a team. The Pioneers compete in National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and are in the River States Conference (RSC).

“Alyssa (Campbell), she helped me so much with my questions when I came here,” De Bie said. “I had a lot of questions about my conference and nationals, and she took the time to really explain it to me. Allie (Plassio) and Natalia (Zucco) also explained the team. Jana (Schmid) helped me very much acclimate. She came a little bit later, but she brought a European atmosphere.”

Schmid also moved from Europe, from Germany. De Bie joining the team is beneficial for both of them as Schmid was the only European on the women’s cross country team last year. Schmid is glad De Bie joined the team.

“I really like running with Carljin,” Schmid said. “It’s so nice to have someone from Europe on your team as well.”

Schmid added, though, that it’s more than just a European connection.

“I am so glad she is on our team this year because she is not only an amazing runner but also an amazing person,” Schmid said. “Of course, we have some similarities because we are both from Europe, but I don’t think that’s the main reason why we get along so well. Carlijn is a really shiny person and always makes me feel better when I come to practice.”

De Bie also mentioned that Corinne and Sophia Lee-Hauser also helped de Bie with her moving process.

De Bie compared the first course’s hills she ran at Saint Vincent College to the hills seen in the children’s tv show, the Teletubbies. However, De Bie is now in the full swing of things and is getting used to the hills in Pennsylvania. De Bie helped the team earn 3rd place out of 11 teams at the Saint Vincent Invitational and 11th place out of 40 teams at the Lock Haven Invitational.

 “Everybody’s running for the same goal: You want to go to Nationals,” De Bie said. “I think that it’s more strategic here and I like that as well. Everybody’s so supportive of each other and back home is also supportive, but you have your own individual goal and here it’s more of a team effort.”

De Bie thrives off of the team environment and wants to continue to make an impact in cross country by helping her team. Nonetheless, she doesn’t want to just help people in cross country as she is majoring in Instructional Studies.

“I really want to be a teacher,” De Bie said. “I always want to help people. I like kids because I used to babysit a lot and during that, I also like babysitting during the day. I had the whole day with children and just really, really enjoyed it.”