The freshman sensation from Israel
Tue, 17 Mar 2009 17:32:01 GMT —
She's been a huge asset to her team this season. She's a freshman sensation straight from Israel who came to the United State for the first time just to play basketball for the Toledo Rockets.
In her time at UT, Naama Shafir has made a major impact both on and off the court.
"She's an inspiration to everybody on our team and to be honest people in our community have been inspired by her story," says Rockets Head Coach Tricia Cullop.
Shafir is a devout Orthodox Jew. She observes the Sabbath, so she cannot work from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. She also cannot ride in a motorized vehicle during that time. She can play only because her rabbi considers it fun. Her team is grateful for that.
For Shafir, the fear of coming to the U.S. and joining a team with a bunch of strangers was cast aside when she realized the respect they had for her abilities as a player and her faith off the court.
"I thought it's gonna be hard but it's working really good. The people here help me to make it," says Shafir. Her teammates say they've really become a tight-knit clan. They have had to learn about Naama and in doing so have learned more about each other.
Coach Cullop adds, "It's so well worth it to have a player of her caliber and even a person of her caliber in our program."
A person who is grounded religiously. A person who is character-based and who plays some pretty good basketball as well.