Athletes play far from home

International student-athletes bring diversity to EWU campus

Athletes play far from home

By Elohino Theodore, Sports Writer


By Elohino Theodore
Staff Writer
[email protected]

The Eastern men’s basketball team currently has an abundance of athletes from all over the world wearing the Eagle red, white and black.

EWU men’s basketball coach Jim Hayford thinks having international players on a team is one of many positive aspects in sports. “The way I see the world is we’re part of a global society, we’re citizens of the globe before we’re Americans,” Hayford said.

Being so far from home, coach Hayford tries to help the international athletes feel at home, especially for the holidays. “One of the hard things in bringing these players several thousand miles from their home is that you’re taking them away from their family. And so, the last two Christmases all the international guys [spent] the night at my house. This year we [had] Thanksgiving together as a team,” Hayford said.

Hayford believes that bringing people to Eastern is a great thing; he wants to encourage international students to come to Eastern to expand their opportunities. “I don’t want to limit myself to just recruiting people just in our region, just in our state, just in our country, but in the whole world.”

According to Hayford, it is not just a matter of a lack of local talent in America, but letting the recruiting process take its course naturally. “There’s lots of talent everywhere. If we can get the real talented players that are local like Parker Kelly to stay here and come play for us, we’re going to look at those too. But it’s more of just letting our recruiting relationships guide us.”

One of Hayford’s international players on his team is 7’1” center Frederik Jörg from Korschenbroich, Germany. Jörg is currently in his second year at Eastern. Jörg had a few schools he considered, but chose Eastern for various reasons.

“They [recruited] me, they wanted me to help. I talked to a couple of other schools, but I really liked the culture, the environment, the concept and the European style of play,” Jörg said. He also explains that the game of basketball in America is different from how it is played in Germany. “The game is way more physical and quicker here, in Europe you don’t have that many athletic guys,” Jörg said.

Another one of many international players on the men’s basketball team is 6’5” shooting guard and forward Felix Von Hofe from Melbourne, Australia. For Hofe the recruitment process of coming to Eastern was fairly quick and easy. “One of coach Hayford’s friends contacted Hayford saying that he’d reckon that I’d suit the program over here and I was signed within about three weeks,” Hofe said.

Hofe also talked about how difficult it was for him to get situated in America. “I struggled quite a bit for the first probably four weeks that I was here because I was a little bit homesick,” Hofe said. The coaching staff and everyone else helped him with the adjustment process.

Sophomore guard Daniel Hill from Sydney, Australia, likes several things about Eastern. “It’s kind of like a small community; I come from a fairly large city, so it’s kind of a nice change. I like the people here, everyone’s really nice to me,” Hill said.

Hill also pointed out the differences of weather and the difficulties of being away from home. “Coming from Australia, even the winter’s pretty warm over there. Being away from family for such a long time is obviously a little bit difficult. Especially coming into the holiday season, we have Christmas during summer,” Hill said.

Sophomore forward Venky Jois from Boronia, Australia, explained the differences of basketball in Australia versus the United States. “In Australia, you don’t see the really huge athletes.” According to Jois, America has much taller athletes than Australia overall.

“In terms of my game, I think I probably suit the American game more because I do like to drive, I like to do a few things to create for others as well,” Jois said.

Jois also points out a few things he likes about being a student at Eastern. “The people are unique, Cheney’s really relaxed. I just like the fact that it’s not too stressful.”