The UMary volleyball roster comes from all over the globe.
Head coach Thais Franca, originally from Brazil, uses every avenue available to find players that fit her vision. And one of those resources? Her hometown.
“She’s from the same city as I am,” Brazilian setter Amanda Lopes said.
“Because I played back home professionally I know so many people [there],” Franca said. “So people keep helping with kids to bring here.”
Lopes is one of two Brazilian players who come from Franca’s hometown of Santos. And she says Franca has helped her with all the cultural differences she’s faced–everything from the cold weather to the actual volleyball itself.
“The ball is different,” Lopes said. “I feel like here is lighter.”
Franca says she’s more than willing to be their guide through this major transition.
“I always bring it up to them, like ‘Hey, ‘I was in your shoes one day,'” Franca said. “For kids to get here, they don’t always speak English as a first language. I say, ‘Hey, I know how it is. I went through everything, and I’m here to help you and support you in everything that you need.'”
And the international players appreciate everything Franca’s done for them.
“She’s an amazing coach,” Lopes said. “She helps you to improve yourself as a player and as a person.”
UMary travels to Minot to play the Beavers tomorrow at 7 p.m.