St. Clair County Community College brings in basketball players from all over.
And we’re not just talking about from down to Detroit to up in Croswell. With 6-foot-5 freshman Sam Pleszak on the team this year, the Skippers reach goes over the Atlantic Ocean with his game being imported from London, England.
“Basketball can take you all over the world,” Pleszak said.
Pleszak has become living proof of that, bouncing from his homeland in England to Atlanta and Port Huron before he even reaches 20 years old. After playing on one of England’s best academy teams for a few years, he moved to Atlanta last year for a six month stint at Combine Academy – a basketball academy.
So, how did he find his way to Port Huron? Well, the story starts with Skippers head coach Dale Vos receiving his tape to watch. It only got a little more complicated from there.
Just four days before SC4 started its school year, Pleszak found out his visa has been approved. Vos then received a call from Pleszak’s mom saying he would fly out of England the following morning – only to be held up at customs for a few hours upon landing. After staying the weekend in a motel downtown waiting for school to start, he was officially a Skipper.
“It was an interesting first week or so,” Vos said with a laugh.
Even Pleszak admits basketball isn’t anywhere near the most popular sport in England, but once the older kids in school got him to play because of his height, he was instantly hooked.
“When you find a sport you really enjoy, it makes you hungry,” Pleszak said. “It makes you want to wake up early and do those things to get better at that sport … and I found that with basketball.”
That thirst to improve his game showed last year when he moved to Atlanta to submerse himself in six months of American basketball – something he called “a dream” for foreign players.
It was also a different game than what he was used to in England with more speed and fast breaks in the American game. Of course, having a great corps of teammates helps getting acclimated with the American college game as well.
“The teammates are making me really comfortable, they’re a bunch of great guys,” Pleszak said. “For me it’s just about getting better and becoming a better team.”
No matter how much he helps the team from the wing during this winter, Pleszak’s presence on the team has already made an impact with players. Vos said it’s players with backstories like him that make the wide-spread team even closer.
“I’ve always said one of the nice things about our program is, for example, someone from Brown City can become good friends with and learn from a kid from Flint, and vice versa,” Vos said. “And that’s part of the reason athletics is in the education system.”