MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) – Many Juco basketball teams fill their rosters with athletes from all over the world and the Chipola men’s basketball team is one of them. The Indians have five players on their roster that call another country their home.
“I’ve never heard of Marianna Florida until I got here,” Austrialian native Marial Mading said.
Chipola bringing athletes from all over the world to come play there, in a town they never knew existed, and giving them a second family among their teammates and coaches.
“We all have one thing in common that’s basketball,” Mading said.
A roster representing five countries is not ucommon for Chipola head coach Brendan Foley who consistently recruits international players. He said he’s always taken aback how much they value playing for Chipola.
“With a lot of them, it’s a privilege to be in the United States,” Foley said. “We’ve had kids here who this is their first time they’ve had a bed of their own to sleep in so it’s kind of humbling just having the training equipment to play here you know some of those guys grew up on an outdoor court it’s the first time they’ve played on a hardwood with a roof.”
The players challenged by not only adjusting to playing at the collegiate level, but also learning the English language. Sophomore forward Cheikh Faye, originally from Senegal, said he struggled in his first year with the team because of the language barrier, so over the summer he took an English language class to come back as a better player and communicator this season.
“I ask them some questions about whenever we’re done practicing and they’ve been helping me a lot through the process and now I’m just getting more comfortable with it and I’m very grateful,” Faye said.
The Indians using their differences to learn from each other, like holding conversations in English or enjoying homemade food native to their teammates’ countries.
“We have to like have that extra step to understand each other,” Chipola player Christian Lorng from France said. “We all have different cultures like where were from and the way we see stuff and the way people here see stuff different so we need that extra communication to be able to understand each other and I think that help the team to bond.”
The Indians will begin the final round of Panhandle conference matchups on Saturday in Tallahassee.