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Prep basketball: Making their luck

Students from the Cayman Islands are getting noticed and thriving SCCS

Posted: December 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Santa Clarita Christian head coach James Mosley, second from left, joins his players from left, Chris Collins (55), Philip Webb (23) Maynor Brooks (33) and La-Rue Nixon (10). The four players have transfered from the Cayman Islands.

 

What started as a way to help a group of students looking to increase their academic and athletic opportunities, has blossomed in just six years into a successful international studies program at Santa Clarita Christian School.

In 2007, Santa Clarita Christian School head basketball coach James Mosley and members of the SCCS administration had an idea to make it easy for international students to transfer into the school.

There had already been some interest from students familiar with the school, and creating an I-20 international program would make that process a reality.

On March 20, 2008, Santa Clarita Christian was approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information system.

Since its inception, the school has brought students from countries such as the Cayman Islands, South Korea and the Philippines.

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s something I didn’t at first envision,” Mosley says. “It kind of developed gradually and things have worked out well.”

And while the students come from all walks of life, and participate in various activities on campus, it has been the students from the Cayman Islands that have worked most closely with Mosley and the basketball team.

From Davion Cotterell, the first Caymanian student in the program, to current Cayman Island transfers Phillip Webb, Maynor Brooks, Chris Collins and Larue Nixon, learning at the school and playing the sport they love has opened up a world of new possibilities.

“It has helped me as a student. It’s helped me realize how important it is to have an education for the future. SCCS has taught me life goals,” Nixon says. The environment is pretty good. It’s uplifting. As an athlete it has exposed me to more competition and it made my options wider by coming here.”

A lot of the athletic lessons the students receive come from Mosley, whose connection to the game of basketball stretches back to his days playing at The Master’s College and overseas in countries such as England, South Korea and the Philippines.

In fact, it is his connection to TMC that has led so many students from the Cayman Islands to playing basketball at the small, private school in Santa Clarita.

Victor O’Garro met Mosley while O’Garro’s son Dwight was playing basketball at TMC in 2000.

When Victor later found out Mosley had become a coach at nearby SCCS, he started talking up the school back in the Cayman Islands.

Victor is a coach in the Caymanian national team program.

“Basketball has a strong connection because Victor O’Garro has a connection with coach Mosley,” Nixon says. “They formed a good relationship and coach always recommended SCCS.”

Because of a lack of organized sports leagues on the island, many parents plan well in advance to send their children to the United States for a better education and more opportunities, Mosley says.

Nixon says those opportunities are becoming greater and greater on the island — during his time there they practiced outside more often than not, and now the team uses indoor facilities regularly.

But still, for an increasing number, their opportunities are coming at SCCS.

Cotterell, the first I-20 student from the Cayman Islands at the school, currently plays basketball at the University of Tampa.

Another student, Tikko Moore, graduated in 2011 from the school after playing basketball and football and now plays basketball at Simpson University in Redding.

Soon, Nixon, Collins, Brooks and Webb might get there chance to play collegiate basketball in the United States — with a new group of I-20 students making the trip to SCCS.

What advice would they give to upcoming transfer students?

“They should really fully commit to doing it,” Nixon says. “And work hard when they’re out here, because they aren’t only representing themselves, but the Cayman Islands as a whole and SCCS.

jstein@signalscv.com

661-287-5536

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