Lands a Leading Receiver
Competition Expands Basketball
Oberlin Lands a Leading
In Just One Season, Valenzuela Resets a
by Zachary Pretzer '03
In his first season with the Yeoman, junior wide receiver
Ricky Valenzuela has established himself as one of the top
receivers in NCAA Division III football.
The funny thing is that when he visited
the College as a prospective transfer student, he didn't think
Oberlin would suit him.
"I initially felt it wasn't
the right place for me. I was already homesick on just a weekend
trip," Valenzuela said.
During his two seasons at Modesto
Junior College in California, Valenzuela was the leading receiver
in catches and yards, and his team was ranked among the top
five junior-college teams in Northern California. Numerous
coaches in all divisions were interested in adding his name
to their rosters, but a personal connection landed him at
"My junior-college coach and
Coach [Jeff] Ramsey are friends. One day Coach Ramsey called,
and we started talking about Oberlin," said Valenzuela,
who plans to attend medical school. Ramsey convinced him to
visit the Oberlin campus. "He made the visit very interesting.
I wasn't just thinking about football - school was more important
in my decision to come to Oberlin."
"I explained to Ricky that
he would receive a top-notch education at Oberlin, and that
if he came here, he would not only be able to play right away,
but he could even be an All-American," Ramsey said.
Valenzuela has not only played,
he's become a team leader. In the September 29 game against
Wabash College, he caught nine passes for a school-record
239 yards and three touchdowns - just 11 yards shy of the
North Coast Athletic Conference record. (The previous school
record of 220 yards was set by Rollie Schick in a 1978 game
against Hiram College.)
For his efforts, D3football.com
and Don's Hansen's National Football Weekly named Valenzuela
the national offensive player of the week.
Although he's been successful on
the field, Valenzuela admits his adjustment to Oberlin has
"Everything here was completely
new to me. At Modesto, it was almost like playing in high
school - I was living at home and playing football with some
of the same teammates I had had for almost eight years. After
my first day of practice here, I called my mom and had a plane
ticket ready to go home, but I ran into a few teammates, and
they convinced me to stay," Valenzuela said. "Being
away from home has been rough, but I'm happy where I am."
Valenzuela undoubtedly grew happier
on October 20, when the Yeomen snapped their 44-game losing
streak with a convincing 53-22 win against Kenyon College.
Among the Oberlin fans in Dill Field that day were Valenzuela's
mother, aunt, and sister.
"My family is really into
football, and they are my biggest supporters," said Valenzuela,
whose brother plays at the University of Oregon and whose
father was an All-American at California State University
at Long Beach before playing professionally.
In his short time at Oberlin, Valenzuela
has earned the respect of his teammates.
"He's one of the smartest
receivers I have ever seen, which says a lot considering I
played with [former Yeomen receiver] Felix Brooks-Church,
who set three Oberlin receiving records," said senior
punter Bob Montag. "Although he didn't have any catches,
and the stats might not show it, he played a big part in our
win against Kenyon by drawing attention to himself and opening
up the running game."
"He's got the best pair of
hands I have ever seen," said first year kicker Steve
"Ricky's a Division I athlete
playing Division III," said sophomore running back David
Coach Ramsey echoes his players'
"Ricky's an all-around good
guy. He has a great feel for the game. He has the ability
to find the open spots, beat the defender in man-to-man, and
most importantly, pick up the ball," he said.
read an account of the Yeomen's historic win and see a video
presentation about the game, click here.
Expands Basketball Player's Worldview
Broussard Travels to Australia to Compete
in International Games
by Zachary Pretzer '03
and Anne C. Paine
Nzinga Broussard, a senior economics major from Delaware,
Ohio, is accustomed to meeting challenges head on. She has,
after all, led the women's basketball team in scoring for
the last three seasons, scored the 1,000th point of her career
in December 2000, and is on pace to break the current career
scoring record, held by Head Coach Ann Marie Gilbert '91.
Last spring, Broussard tested her
mettle with a completely new challenge: overseas travel and
competition. She visited Darwin, Australia, to compete in
the Arafura Games.
Broussard was invited to compete
in Australia by USA Athletes International, a nonprofit organization
that gives amateur athletes and coaches the opportunity to
participate in sporting events throughout the world while
broadening their cultural knowledge. The group sent a team
of 75 athletes and a number of officials to the Arafura Games,
held May 16 to 31, 2001, in Darwin, Australia. A leading international
event for developing athletes of the Asia-Pacific region,
the Arafura Games are held every two years.
"Nzinga was invited because
of her exceptional play during the past three years,"
said Coach Gilbert. "Several coaches in and out of the
area recommended her as an elite, Division III athlete."
Broussard's trip to Australia was partially funded by the
Oberlin College Heisman Club, a group of alumni who support
athletics at the College.
This was the first year that USA
Athletes International sent a contingent to the Arafura Games,
which hosted competitors from 25 countries in 29 sports this
year. Americans competed in basketball, hockey, soccer, softball,
and indoor volleyball. Broussard was one of only 14 basketball
players in the contingent, and her team captured the silver
medal in the basketball tournament.
"The play was extremely aggressive,
and it was difficult getting used to the international rules,
such as using men's basketballs," Broussard said. "Overall,
the scores really didn't reflect how much of a challenge all
of the games were. We were definitely tested physically and
Despite the intense schedule, Broussard
still had some time to see the Australian countryside, as
well as the cities of Darwin and Cairns.
"The entire country was beautiful,
and the people there were some of the nicest I have ever met,"
she said. "The opportunity to associate with people from
other countries and cultures was a life lesson. Although we
had differences among ourselves - culture and language - we
all had a common love for basketball, and that was enough
to establish friendships and memories that will last a lifetime."
Looking back, Broussard said her
experiences have broadened her ideas.
"Seeing how people of different
cultures live and interact was extremely beneficial to me
culturally and educationally," she said.
To see images of the Arafura
Games, including one of Nzinga Broussard, go to the Arafura
Games web site and click
on the link for Arafura Images. On the next screen, click
on the link for basketball.