Barbosa double dribbles from Sweden to Western

Lifestyles Student Life World

It’s the first of May and students at Missouri Western are studying hard for finals and making plans to head home after a long year.

Except for one Western student, Selma Barbosa, who will soon leave Sweden to spend the summer closer to Western.

Barbosa has been doing double dribble this past year; she has been a college student while also playing professional women’s basketball in Sweden.


“Basketball is my passion, and I knew I was not ready to stop playing it after my senior year,” Barbosa said. “After I got my first major, I got myself a basketball agent and told him I wanted to keep playing basketball in Europe, where I knew I would have an opportunity to show my basketball skills.”

Barbosa recently slam-dunked her first year playing for The Comets, a European women’s basketball team.

While in the paint in Sweden, Barbosa has been attending UMEA University, a large university with a total student population of 30,000.

“The classes I am taking are related to my major, Spanish,” Barbosa said. Barbosa is taking 16 points, which will match the hours that she will need to be able to graduate from Western this summer.

Barbosa’s game schedule dead balled in March, as the season ended. She played games twice a week, playing in the highest-Elite league in Sweden. She helped her team control the boards all over Sweden.

“Every team had their foreign players, and most of the foreign players were from the United States,” Barbosa said. “I think I was the only South American player in the league. I got to know most of the American players.”

Barbosa said her practice was similar to that of when she was in college. Most of her teammates, including her coach, were also studying. She practiced mostly at night, after 6 p.m. everyday, only having one day to rest.

“My opinion is if a person really wants to accomplish something, she or he will find a way and time to do it,” Barbosa said. “I never had a problem with my homework. I always took my homework on trips with me or I would wake up earlier and do it.”

While Barbosa has been palming classes at UMEA, the support of her team at Western have been a tremendous help.

“Judith Grimes has been an angel in my life, since I decided to take my last courses here in Sweden,” Barbosa said. “The head of the foreign language department, Dr. Hennessy, also helped me tremendously, especially when she found a way to translate all my course descriptions. They were all in Swedish, and she had to read it to be able to approve it so she found someone that was able to translate it.”

Barbosa has communicated with Grimes, Hennessy and the registrar’s office almost daily in trying to complete requirements for
her summer graduation.

“We e-mailed sometimes five times a week,” Grimes said.

While e-mail correspondence worked to solve some questions, paperwork and other important documents, such as transcripts, were often faxed between the University in Sweden and Western.

“Mechanics were the main challenges, mostly paperwork,” Grimes said.

Passion drove Barbosa to Europe to play basketball. Rebounding after a two-year leave of absence, Barbosa charged to Western
in search of what she wanted to do after her basketball career.

After three years of college, Barbosa needed a fastbreak because she still couldn’t decide for sure what she wanted to study. That was when she heard about the idea of a PTA degree.

“I fell in love with the idea of a physical therapist assistances degree,” Barbosa said.

Washburn University and Missouri Western were only two of the few universities in the country that offered the major.

“The coach from Washburn and coach Keister – at that time he was still the assistant coach for Missouri Western – knew me from Bacone Junior College, so I took a visit to both schools and I decided to play for Missouri Western and also study physical therapy,” Barbosa said.

She left her family and her home in Barretos, state of Sao Paulo, Brazil at the age of 15 when she had the opportunity to develop the man-to-man defense with her basketball skills by playing in other cities in Brazil.

“My parents always taught me that education always should come first than basketball because my education, my diploma and knowledge cannot be taken away, but basketball can be taken away anytime with a serious injury or something else,” Barbosa said.

Realizing that it would be difficult to scrimmage both: playing basketball and further her education, Barbosa soon made the choice to come to the United States where she could do both.

“I had a few ex-Brazilians teammates playing in the states, and also my Brazilian coach at that time knew a coach in the USA, so I told him I would like to go to the United States to study and play basketball,” Barbosa said.

Speaking not a word of English, Barbosa attended Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla., where she would play basketball, learn English and complete a degree.

Barbosa’s three-point fiend goals at Bacone earned her a position at Fort Hays State University, where she played only one season. Barbosa plans to take her PTA board exam after graduation and get her license.

“I would like during the summer, to get a job as a physical therapist assistant and get some experience on this field,” Barbosa said.

When the season starts again in September, Barbosa plans to travel to Europe to return to basketball.

“I always tell my good friends that I will continue to play basketball until no team wants to hire me anymore – until they tell me that I am too old to play the game,” she said. “That’s when I will stop playing serious, but I will still play for fun.”

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