PITTSBURG, Kan. (KODE 12) — Acclimating to a new place isn’t always easy at first. But the journey has made every step worth it.
Pittsburg State University’s Marina Bauza Rubert grew up in Majorca, an island off the coast of Spain. She started playing basketball at ten-years-old after she swam for awhile and was told she should pick up basketball due to her height.
It was then in high school, before her senior year, that she received an opportunity to pursue basketball and advance her academic career in the United States.
“I remember I got the email from coach [Amanda] Davied and I was like, ‘Mom, this coach Davied person just asked to talk to me and they’re from Kansas. I don’t know where Kansas is,'” Bauza told KODE 12. “That’s why I literally just googled Kansas. I was like, ‘Oh, this is Kansas.’
“… Kansas is a whole new world and it’s awesome. I like this a lot. People are like, ‘Why do you come here from like Spain?’ And I’m like, ‘You guys don’t know, Pittsburg, Kansas, is pretty cool.'”
Coming to the United States presented its challenges. Bauza said learning another language was the biggest challenge in the beginning. She said when she first arrived at practice she didn’t exactly know what to do. Her teammates helped guide her through her three years at Pitt State and now in her final season, she’s enjoying every second of it.
If you were to ask her what she expected before she made her way to Pittsburg, she said watching movies sparked ideas of what she thought it’d be like.
“It was funny because I remember coach [Lane] Lord was the head coach when I came here,” Bauza said. “Coach Lord was driving me with coach Davied on the other seat. I was behind, I was looking around at night, like it was 6 p.m. or something, and we’re driving through Broadway and I was literally like, ‘I’m in the Cars movie.'”
“When Lightning McQueen is driving in the middle and sees all the gas stations and stuff. I was like, ‘This is like the Cars movie. This is the coolest thing ever.'”
No matter where this ride may take her after her time at Pitt State comes to an end, she knows her decision to become a Gorilla was the right one.
“Not many get to do this and I’m just a lucky person cause I got to do this,” Bauza said. “It just means everything, like I’m so glad to be a Gorilla and I’m always going to be a Gorilla because once a Gorilla, always a Gorilla.”