CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Parkland guard Gemme Alegre says she couldn’t imagine her life without basketball, but you don’t need to speak Spanish to see how much she loves the game. It’s a sport that brought her halfway around the globe.
“They gave me the opportunity with a scholarship to come and play and study at the same time, so I’m thankful for the opportunity to stay here with my coaches and my teammates,” Alegre said.
In high school, Algere played at Rivas–a club team in Spain. Her coaches there started the recruiting process with Parkland College.
“We got an e-mail about her, and a list of kids, and we were able to start our initial contact through that, and and it worked out for her to come,” Parkland head coach Allie Lindemann said.
The Madrid-native says there are little to no athletic scholarships available in Spain, so her only shot to play college basketball meant coming to the United States. She’s living here for the first time, after arriving in September.
“It was difficult at the beginning during my first months here, but all my teammates and my coaches were helping me all the time,” Alegre said. “So it was easy to stay here my first couple months, and now it feels like I’m in a family.”
Adjusting to a new culture and language took some time. A new style of play was also a challenge, she was used a more physical game in Europe. But the move across the pond has been well worth it. The freshman guard has started in 20 games for the Cobras this season, averaging 4 points per game.
“She has a ridiculous handle as a point guard, and her speed in unmatched,” Lindemann said. “She’s a great kid, and she gives us a different perspective not just on basketball, but the world.”
And no matter where Alegre ends up next, she knows basketball is a universal language all around the world.
“You just have to play your all, it doesn’t matter what you’re speaking,” Alegre said.
To watch Marlee’s story in Spanish, click here.