Thursday, January 12, 2006

Unbeaten Cumberland U. women's basketball team has Brazilian flair

The Tennessean reports in this article that the women's basketball team of Cumberland University has a few international students, including three from Brazil. The team plays Trevecca Nazarene tonight in Lebanon.

"The mishmash of international players, combined with mostly players from the Midstate, has proven to be a winning blend. Cumberland is 14-0 and ranked 10th nationally in the NAIA."

"The postgame, when teams typical exchange courtesies, ought to be interesting. Fernandes is from Brazil, where hugging's as common as shaking hands."

"'I am always trying to hug everybody, even people I've just met because that's the way it is in my culture,' [player Juliana] Fernandes said. 'People look at me like I'm crazy. Now I'm learning how to approach people. I know who I can hug and who I should just shake hands with.'"

"Being forced to learn English ... has turned out to be beneficial ... for all of the international players, according to Kari Maddux, a sophomore from Hendersonville (Tennessee, that is)."

"'At first, we were like, 'Oh no, how are we going to communicate with each other?'' Maddux said. 'But now they communicate more in English than we do on the court. The players from the other countries do a better job of actually talking on the court. I think it's because once they learn the language, they consider it something that can help them, whereas we just take it for granted.'"

Brazil is not included in some definitions of "hispanic," which focuses on Spain and Spanish-speaking countries, because Brazilians speak Portuguese and trace their colonial roots to Portugal. Brazil is the largest of all the South American countries, and its population represents half of South America.

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