Title IX Created Opportunities for Vandy to Thrive

International recruits helped Commodores compete for championships

by Daniella Matar and Teresa M. Walker

MILAN — For Maria Bulanova, it was a matter of surprise — that she could be recruited to the bowling team at Vanderbilt “all the way from Russia.”

Like other international athletes playing college sports in the United States, she had little sense of Title IX when she was younger. But the federal law has opened the door for thousands of female athletes from abroad to get an American education and possibly a shot at a life and career in the United States.

“People were surprised that Vanderbilt was able to recruit me all the way from Russia,” Bulanova said. “They were like, ‘Oh, wow. Their recruiting is really diverse.’ Like, ‘Wow. They saw you all the way from there.’”

Bulanova was looking to bowl in Europe after finishing her last year of school in Russia. In November 2015, she represented Russia in the World Cup in Las Vegas and bowled well enough that several American colleges wanted her to visit. She visited five colleges in one week in February 2016 before choosing Vanderbilt.

“What really made them stand out is obviously the education. And I was also looking for a good bowling program where I know that we’re going to win something, we’re going to be in competition for the national championship. So Vanderbilt had both, and that was perfect,” said Bulanova, who graduated in 2020 and is now in her second year competing on tour with the Professional Women’s Bowling Association. She is also working on a master’s degree at St. Francis in New York, where she is an assistant coach.

— To read the rest of this story by The Associated Press, click HERE.