International basketball players provide wins and perspective


Justin Hawkins

Center Mike Tertsea (41) takes a shot in a game against Mt. Carmel. Tertsea is one of the four international starters on JC’s varsity men’s basketball.

Four out of the five starters—and 10 of the total 22 players—on the men’s varsity basketball team are international students.

According to junior Mateus Maccieri, head coach Tony Martin helps the players fulfill their interests and bring them to JC.

Martin has several connections around the world that can help bring international talent to JC. These connections brought the first international student-athlete, Jakub “Kuba” Kusmieruk, class of ’08, from Poland to be on the team. In some cases, the players’ contacts introduce them to JC.

Maccieri came from Reggio Emilia, Italy, last year. His father, who has contacts in Maryland, asked for a list of the best basketball schools in the state with an international program already established. After debating the prospective schools, Maccieri decided on JC.

“America has a lot of opportunities,” Maccieri said. Maccieri left his friends and family to go to a country that speaks a foreign language. English happens to be not his first, nor second, but his third language.

According to Maccieri, athletics and school studies in Italy and in the rest of Europe are generally separated. There are no high school teams, just club teams.

According to Maccieri, it’s easier to balance school and sports here in the US. “It helps you play. You don’t get penalized [for playing a sport] here,” he said.

Another contributing factor is that going to an American high school helps international students get recognized and accepted by American colleges. According to Martin, during his nine years of being head coach, the basketball program has produced 22 Division 1 Athletes.

Sophomore Kevin Kangu, a combo guard (a combination between a shooting guard and point guard), came from Canada searching for superior education opportunities. According to Kangu, he is doing much better here than he did at his old school, and JC “is a great school.”

According to Martin, international players are critical for the success of the program. Martin has won two MIAA championships in his time here. However, according to Martin, when compared to the talent in Baltimore County schools, JC needs the international talent in order to be a considerable opponent. Martin says international students are “very important for success.”

Part of the school mission statement is to help give students a “global perspective” as well as allow students to excel in an international community. According to Martin, having international students helps to fulfill that promise.

Not everyone sees things in a positive light. “While the basketball team may be good, the school shouldn’t be selling itself through basketball alone,” junior Nicole Iorio said. “John Carroll has a ton to offer.”

“I think if you talk to students that have engaged with the international student body, [they] have been enlightened with new cultures and new friends,” Martin said, “which makes the world a little smaller.”

According to junior TC Sanders, “[International students] bring diversity to the school, they bring something positive to the school.”

Justin Hawkins in an Opinion Editor for The Patriot and