Campus News

Thiandoum reaches beyond basketball

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The doors open, a six feet nine inch muscular figure strides into the Bowmen Library at Bethel College and all eyes turn to look at Aziz Thiandoum. Immediately thoughts of a basketball player fill the minds of those sitting near the door.Aziz sits down at a near-by desk obviously too tall for the chair, headphones in ears and he logs into a computer to finish some homework, his big brown eyes drooping a little after a long day of practice and classes. aziz_thiandoum_177_mb2Senegal native Aziz Thiandoum is not your typical college student.Thiandoum did not even start college until he was 24.Thiandoum is now almost 28 and has been at Bethel College for just a little over a year after transferring from Oklahoma University. He doesn’t regret that decision to come to cold northern Indiana. “I would say God,” said Thiandoum in very broken English. “Coach Lightfoot called and wanted me to come visit, but I asked where the school was first, they told me Indiana, and I say I don’t want to be somewhere cold.” But somehow Thiandoum chose to be in cold Mishawaka rather than North Carolina, after taking a few day visit to Bethel College. “When I came here, it was just wow,” Thiandoum said with a twinkle in his eye. “I call it game changer. It was exactly what I was looking for, I felt like I went home. People were just so nice.” Thiandoum knew after that visit that Bethel was the place for him, even though it wasn’t NCAA like he was used too. Coming into his senior year he was excited to see what talents he could bring to the basketball team, but as the season went on Thiandoum was not eligible to play. Still on the team however he is taking on his new role as a senior leader and helping fellow seniors Matt Schauss and Zach Miller lead the team. “I had a meeting with Coach and he sat me down and said Aziz, we need you to lead,” said Thiandoum. “So that is my role now, to be behind the team and push, because if I can’t play we can still do great things, and still are doing great things. Sometimes we don’t have a manager when we travel so I have to do the role of a manager, when we have a timeout I give them water and throw them towels.” Thiandoum also talked about even if he doesn’t get to play the remainder of the season he doesn’t care because that’s not why he is here at Bethel. He is here to gain an education. A self-proclaimed neat freak Thiandoum talked about how he makes his bed everyday and teammates and roommates are always teasing him about why he does it. He says to them he just likes to keep things tidy. While Thiandoum enjoys Bethel, he does miss being home in Senegal. Especially his mom. Thiandoum’s father passed away when he was 8 months old so he doesn’t really remember him and he went to live with his uncle at a young age so he didn’t get to live with his mom very long. But now he cherishes every phone conversation he has with her, which is about twice a week. Thiandoum also joked that his mom doesn’t like to skype and that she doesn’t have time too even though he would like to. Thiandoum’s uncle was the one that convinced Thiandoum to come to America and get an education. “I wanted to make money, but he told me to come here,” said Thiandoum. “I told him no at first and he got mad, and didn’t talk to me for two days and finally I said fine and I told him if I didn’t like it I would come back.” It’s now been 4 years since Thiandoum has been back to Senegal. Thiandoum describes himself as being very introvert. He says you will often see him waslking around campus with his headphones in. But once you get to know him, he is one of the friendliest people you will ever meet. Thiandoum attributes being so well rounded to having the opportunity while playing basketball in Senegal to travel all over the world to places such as, New Zealand, Spain, Saudi Arabia and France. He also knows 35 different languages.
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