Turns out Torrington, Wyoming is a hotbed of international culture and influence. Who knew?
Certainly not me until I covered the Eastern Wyoming College Lancer men and women here in Powell against the Northwest College Trappers of a recent evening.
By way of education and explanation, Wyoming has exactly one (1) four-year college. One. That is, of course, the University of Wyoming Cowboys who are beloved like no other in this wonderful state. Try to swing a dead cat in a crowd here without hitting someone with Ole’ Steamboat on a cap or shirt of jacket in brown and gold, I dare you.
Steamboat, for you flatlanders, is the bucking bronco being ridden on the university’s iconic and fully appropriate Cowpoke logo.
What this state does have is a wonderful system of junior colleges, most of which carry the name of their geographic placement as in Northwest Wyoming, Eastern Wyoming. Laramie County, Western Wyoming, etc.
Have you even been to/through Torrington? It’s just across the border from Scottsbluff in what is about as rural country as there is.
How in the world did the hoops coaches in such an out-of-the way corner of the planet attract players from all over the world? I don’t claim to know, but it sure is over the moon neat.
Unless, say, you are the fill-in sports guy who has to deal with all those tongue-twister monikers. Right now, that guy happens to be me. Send your prayers west, please.
One among many of these captivating kids is Adela Smutna, a freshman from the Czech Republic who plays (very well) right here in Powell.
I am doing a feature on Adela and one my first questions, to her and also her coach, was to explain how a kid on the opposite side of the planet lands in remote, rural, sagebrush-blanketed, mountainous northwest Wyoming.
The answer was kind of fascinating.
It seems there’s a coach on the Weber State men’s team who comes from that very neck of the world. He’d seen Adela play on her country’s national teams growing up. It was he who put a bug in Northwest College women’s coach Cam Levett’s ear through a relationship between NWC and Weber State and that was that.
What could possibly be Adela’s motivation to leave her homeland for a strange country far, far away?
She wanted to get a free – or nearly free -education. Simple as that.
European countries do not combine education with athletics at any level. Period. There are only club teams that are dead serious and often year-round, however families must pay for higher education because there are no athletic scholarships. Adela is a sharp young woman, as her 3.9 gpa in the classroom makes obvious, and she’s the leading scorer on the court to boot. What do those two things mean? They mean she will absolutely receive a full-ride scholarship from a four-year college or university and end up with a bachelor’s degree for cheap.
I think it’s wonderful America can nurture international athletes in that way. I hope you do, too?