Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography
From Barcelona, Spain, Marina Fernandez recently transferred to NDSU from Casper College in Wyoming, competing with the Bison women’s basketball team for the first time at the beginning of November. While she’s a junior academically, the newcomer is building from the ground up to overcome the shock of a new culture.
“It takes a transition to adapt on the court,” said Fernandez. “I’ve been playing on a different team for two years now, and I was probably one of the leaders on that team. Then coming here was like, ‘Oh, I’m a freshman again!’ At the same time, I’m a junior, so I have more experience than a freshman on our team.”
During her second year playing for the Casper College Thunderbirds, Fernandez led the team in three-pointers (44) and assists (115). While she’s still experiencing an adjustment period at the beginning of her first Bison season, head coach Maren Walseth recognizes her potential for success with the team.
“Coming here was like, ‘Oh, I’m a freshman again!’” – Marina Fernandez
“I don’t think we’ve seen the true Marina yet,” said Walseth, in November. “She’s shown flashes of it. Then there are times where she kind of floats. Helping her, through film and additional reps, to be more impactful more consistently is an area of growth for her. We’re very pleased, I just don’t think we’re quite seeing the true Marina just quite yet.”
In working towards a more cohesive team dynamic and improving her fundamentals, Fernandez recognizes Coach Walseth’s basketball expertise on and off the court, saying, “She knows what she’s talking about. I think for most of us, she is a role model. When she’s talking about teamwork or general basketball stuff, you know that she’s been there.”
Q&A With Marina Fernandez
What made you want to come to the U.S. for school?
Marina Fernandez: “Just the college experience. We don’t have that back home. Here sports are a big deal, and you have the chance to study and play at the same time while on scholarship. They care about you being successful on both sides.
“My parents were athletes, both runners, and my dad had offers to go to the U.S. He actually committed to a school, and then got hurt and needed surgery so he couldn’t go. I think that’s why it was my goal, and he was always super excited about me coming here because he never got to. It was nice to experience what he wanted and make him proud, too.”
Do your parents get to watch your games while they are in Spain?
MF: “Yes, they watch them online at GoBison.com, but usually the day after because of the time difference. It’s like four in the morning, so I told them don’t even bother because they have work and have other stuff to do, but they still get to watch them the next day.”
How do you reconnect with your Spanish heritage while living so far from home?
MF: “I listen to Spanish music. Sometimes it feels good to just listen to your own music in your own language. Another thing that I do that reminds me of back home is FaceTiming my friends. It reminds me of how things were before I left, and it can make me a little homesick sometimes.”
How has your perspective on your home city changed since moving to Fargo?
MF: “I really value what I have back home now that I’m here. Obviously, Barcelona is a huge city, then coming here I miss little things. Of course, I miss my family and friends, but just the environment of a big city is completely different from here. You always value what you’re missing, you know? When I was living there, I thought it was cool, but not that cool. Then when I left, I realized it was actually pretty great.”
Since you won’t be going home over the semester break, how will you be celebrating the holidays?
MF: “I’m going to Iowa with Reilly Jacobson, where she’s from, for five days. All my teammates knew that I was not going home for Christmas, and most of them said you’re always welcome, but I wanted to get out of the state for a while. I really get along with her, and she asked me to come along.”
Do you have any plans for after graduation, yet?
MF: “My idea is to graduate first, and then I was thinking about going overseas to play professionally somewhere. We have so many countries (to play in), and I just want to keep experiencing and learning about new cultures and people.