My name is Tyler Carver, and I am from Cranbrook, British Columbia. Cranbrook is three and a half hours from Spokane, Washington, where I am currently a student attending Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC). SFCC is one of the two colleges that make up the Community Colleges of Spokane (CCS). In spring 2017, with high school graduation looming, I still had no plans or ideas of what I wanted to do in the future. I had not applied to any universities or colleges, but I knew one thing: I wanted to continue to pursue my softball career.
Because there were no competitive softball programs in Cranbrook or at my high school, I traveled around Canada, Idaho, and Washington to play club softball throughout my youth. One day in Spokane, after a club tournament, the SFCC softball coach approached me. He said he was interested in having me join the college’s softball team and play for SFCC for the next two years. With an athletic scholarship offer in-hand, I toured the most welcoming campus and learned more about the intercollegiate athletic program offered at the home of the Sasquatch. I decided Spokane was the perfect place for me to further my education and softball skills.
Around Spokane, everyone that I knew said great things about the Spokane Sasquatch Softball Program and its coaching staff. The team had been very successful winning the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) Championship in 2015. Also, Spokane Falls Community College, or “The Falls,” as is it known, was the perfect size campus for me coming from a small city in Canada. Everything on campus was close by, and it was so beautiful, filled with trees and greens, which made it feel more like home. What piqued my interest in studying here, though, was the number of amazing programs and classes offered. Since I did not know what I wanted to do for a future career, I liked the idea of exploring classes that interested me. I figured that trying different areas of study could help guide me to find the right direction for my future. SFCC and its sister college, Spokane Community College (SCC), offer programs in areas like business, education, social and behavioral sciences, hands-on building trades, health, humanities, STEM, and visual, performing, and applied arts. There is something for everyone!
Coming to college in a new country right out of high school was intimidating, but the coaches, teammates, and homestay family made it feel like home right off the bat. SFCC allowed me to reach my full potential being a student-athlete. I had the opportunity to play the game that I loved. I also improved my skills by working out and practicing every day, learning new techniques by new coaches, and scrimmaging Division 1 teams like the University of Montana Grizzlies. In June 2018, the newly renovated SFCC Student Athletic Center opened with a brand-new fitness center, weight room, training room, two-story climbing wall, Bigfoot Lounge, and updated gym. This student-funded project demonstrates the commitment to Bigfoot Athletics, state of the art learning facilities, and collaborative leadership between the students, campus stakeholders, and the community.
You can see and feel the support of the community in many ways, including through the International Homestay Program. My homestay experience was amazing during my first year away from home. This experience helped alleviate the home-sickness, provided delicious home-cooked meals, and gave me the chance to get to know more people in Spokane. My host family watched my softball games and I gained a new “sister” from Vietnam, who I consider one of my best friends to date.
SFCC is a supportive starting school for students straight out of high school. The class sizes are small and your professors, like your coaches, know you. They care about their students’ successes and go above and beyond to help students. Professors are available daily during office hours and help students connect with student tutors and other resources available on the campus and in the community. This infrastructure of support not only helps students succeed during their time here, but it also prepares them for the next step: transferring to a four-year university. While there are several types of degrees and certificates offered at SFCC and SCC, a popular degree for international students is the Direct Transfer Agreement Associate Degree. This degree is designed to transfer to most bachelor’s programs. After completing the two-year associate of art or science degree, students can continue their education at a four-year institution at the junior or third year, level standing.
My favorite class was in the first quarter of my first year at SFCC in 2017. It was a humanities class, and coming to Spokane that first year, I was a somewhat close-minded person. However, that class took my blinders off and helped make me a more open-minded person. I like to think that I now take that openness outside of the classroom and use it in my day to day life.
Daily life as a student-athlete can be somewhat predictable; class, homework, work-outs, student employment, and the next morning, repeat. But Spokane has much to offer outside of the typical student life routine. The medium-sized city houses many local coffee shops and boutique stores. In the winter, I love to go to the Spokane Chiefs hockey games or ice skating downtown in Riverfront Park. I enjoy the Spokane Indian baseball games in the summer and Gonzaga basketball starting in the fall. Visiting the Green Bluff Farms pumpkin patches and Scarywood at Silverwood Theme Park are favorite activities of students too.
This school is not only a huge success for student-athletes like myself, but I have made lifelong friendships with students from all around the globe. My experience in Spokane has been life-changing and I want to stay in the area and take advantage of one of the benefits of my student visa. As an F-1 student visa holder, I can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). If approved, OPT authorizes me to work in the field of my study, health, and Wellness, for one full year. This year will also allow me to strengthen my shoulder after shoulder surgery. When I finish my year of OPT, I would love to transfer to a four-year university in the United States and walk on to a softball or hockey team if the opportunity came around. Spokane feels more like home to me now than my actual home in Canada. I am proud to have been able to be a part of this school for the past two years. When I graduate in December 2019, I will leave with lifetime memories and connections to many special people. It was the most excellent last-minute decision I have ever made. Roll Squatch!