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Student-Athletes Abroad

International Education Designed for Athletes, by Athletes

Our Mission

Student-Athletes Abroad offers international education programs designed to remove barriers that typically prevent student-athletes from studying or interning abroad while using sports as a vehicle to increase cultural immersion and maximize educational opportunities.

Our Philosophy

Our programs are created by athletes for athletes. We firmly believe in providing student-athletes a balanced experience abroad. We achieve this by offering exceptional academic experiences, unique opportunities for engagement with local communities through our partnerships, daily workouts and training with local athletes, and plenty of time for exploring local attractions. As former athletes, we know that coaches play an integral role in a student-athletes decision to study abroad. We've worked with college coaches across the country to build programs that turn coaches into international education advocates.

The Student-Athletes Abroad Story

Beyond Sports was born out of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management's "New Venture to Launch" program which provided unique consultation from an institution specializing in Nonprofit Management and one of only two MBA programs in the world accredited for both Business Administration and Public Administration. At the time of our founding, our Co-Founder and Program Director, Josh Erickson, was working at PeacePlayers International, in Washington, D.C.. PeacePlayers is a global non-profit that uses basketball to bridge divides around the world and was recognized at the ESPY's with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Josh also spent several years as the head coach of both the Men's and Women's Costa Rica National Basketball teams, building connections with sporting communities abroad and further witnessing the power of cross-cultural understanding through sports.


Our other Co-Founder, Grant Leslie, was a three-sport college athlete and completed a semester of his MBA degree in at Copenhagen Business School in Europe. Through this experience, he immediately recognized the value of his international experience as it related to his overall education and regretted that so many of his college teammates were unable to study abroad. Grant also lived in Costa Rica for a couple of years after graduate school and was an assistant coach for the Costa Rica National Baseball Team.

Grant and Josh, former college teammates, saw an opportunity to create international education opportunities specifically for college athletes, who often missed out due to various barriers and obstacles. Since our founding in 2010, Beyond Sports has grown into four distinct brands: Beyond Sports Tours, Beyond Sports Team Trips, Girls Leadership Academy for Service & Sport (GLASS), and Student-Athletes Abroad.

Student-Athletes Abroad houses our academic programs and international internship programs for student-athletes to participate in during their off season. Our programs utilize the special power of sport as a vehicle to increase cultural immersion and rest on four key pillars: athletics, academics, service-learning, and adventure. For many student-athletes, the key in their study abroad experience is the ability to continue practicing and training for their sport back on campus. SAA acknowledges this need and provides the adequate programming and resources to allow student-athletes to continue their training.

Over the last few years, our founders have attended conferences including the University of Illinois Symposium on Sport for Development and Peace and University of Arizona's International Sports Diplomacy and Leadership Conference where we presented a session titled Sport for Development: The Student-Athletes Abroad Case Study. We've also presented sessions at the National NAFSA and Forum on Education Abroad Conferences on the topics of study abroad and service-learning for student-athletes to ensure that the expertise we've developed as leaders in providing programs for an underserved student group is spread throughout the international education community.

Our collective staff, based in Portland, Oregon and internationally in Costa Rica, and South Africa, are all former competitive college athletes and are passionate about creating accessible international education opportunities for student-athletes.

Our Brands

Student-Athletes Abroad

The SAA brand houses our more traditional study abroad programs, international internships, international service trips and custom faculty-led programs. Our program catalog includes summer, Jan-term, and full-semester options as well as custom spring-break service through sport trips. Programs are designed to leverage student-athletes' interest in sports to increase cultural immersion and pursue a wide variety of academic and professional development interests while maintaining off-season workouts abroad.


Beyond Sports Tours

Our sports tours programs combine competition, service-learning and adventure and cultural excursions in an affordable 10-day package. Individual student-athletes from colleges across the country are combined to form a team and share the experience. This program is a great introduction to international travel and often ignites a desire to pursue longer-term programs.

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Beyond Team Trips

Also known as Foreign Tours, international team trips take advantage of a NCAA rule that allows entire teams to travel abroad once every 3 (DIII) or 4 (DII and DI) years. Coaches appreciate the unique team building experience away from campus distractions as well as the opportunity to practice and play games outside of normal season dates. Our organization is unique among team trip providers in our focus on cultural immersion and service-learning. We also have the ability to incorporate credit-bearing academic coursework during a team trip if desired.

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Girls Leadership Academy for Service & Sport (GLASS)

The mission of GLASS is to empower the next generation of female leaders through sports, service, and global engagement. This international leadership development adventure is designed to help high school female athletes unleash their full potential.​ High school girls from around the U.S. come together for this 10-day trip in Costa Rica to step outside their comfort zones, receive mentorship from former collegiate athletes, and become more confident in their leadership abilities.

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