Saints Talk with Tabitha Odabe

Saints Talk with Tabitha Odabe


Hello and welcome to the February 20th
edition of the Saints talk. Last time around we had Lauren Penkala of the women’s cross-country team across from us in the chair. Today we have Tabitha Odabe of the
women’s basketball program. Thank you for joining us now and you have been as we were just discussing a little bit off-camera you’ve been in the states
now for five years and originally from Nigeria
so what’s that transition been like moving across the pond as they call it to the stateside. It was interesting it was a
culture shock is to experience culture shock here it was it was challenging but
I was really thankful when I had the opportunity to be set up with people by
from coming from the Rock because I did a year in high school and then going to
Santa Fe and coming here I’ve just been blessed people that helped me
through the transition so it wasn’t as challenging as it would have been if I
just without having those people so it’s been interesting. Wonderful so you ended
up when you first came here going up or in Keystone Heights Florida where you
went to high school and was that your first time ever playing basketball
or have you played back at home? So I started learning back home but it was
different I would just go dribble the ball back home but I had never played an
actual game until I came here like February 2014
I think so I played my first game in February in high school and the season was about to be over so I played like one game So I didn’t really play group organized basketball until my 12th grade year in high school. Was basketball something that you knew
you wanted play of an organized level at a higher level of high school to the next
step college or is it something that just kind of fell into your lap a little bit. It was a little bit of both so it fell into my lap and then I realized that I
wanted to go for it because back home I didn’t know anything about
basketball so I remember one day walking from home I’m walking from school and
this lady was like you need to do something with your height and she stopped me and she was so passionate she told me it was like whoa she was really she was like if
you don’t play basketball be a model God is gonna be mad at you and then I went
home and I was on Facebook and I remember seeing my friend he had a
picture of the basketball court and it was like and the whole time I’m just
thinking I don’t want God to be mad at me. She was so passionate she was like you have to. I was like, do you play basketball? He was like, yeah, do you want to? I really don’t know anything about it. Then he said, okay where do you live?
and the next thing he brought me a basketball and then every evening my mom
bought me basketball shoes and then I would go to court and just dribble the
ball so I really think much about it I had done that for like a year and on and off
and I was going to stop because I was trying to focus on getting to university
because I was about to get into my 12-grade year and this coach he was like do you want
to go to America and I was like yeah and he was like you could play basketball in
America. I can go to school? He was like yeah. you could do both.
If I could do both because I’m not gonna stop school because the basketball
and then he was like you can do both. So he starts searching online and finds a scout in Serbia and the scout in Serbia finds my coach from high school coach in Florida
and I was asked to make a video because we didn’t know how to edit the
video so I said that I stood there for like 30 minutes, I had to make five free throws straight. It was so hot outside. But, it was fun making the video.
I always talk about how I got a scholarship making a right layup and a left layup and five free throws. It was a whole God thing, like boom, boom, boom, happened. We can say with certainly that God is not mad at you. The numbers that you put up on the basketball court is absolutely
astonishing I mean first of all the one season you had at the rock school in
Gainesville you averaged eight points per game seven point nine rebounds a
game and two point three blocks per game now that was your first year in the
States who organized basketball those numbers are pretty great to put up at
that point did you realize that you know this is something that I can not only be good, but could dominate at the next level yeah after high school I was like yeah I
could see myself going further and but then I was little I had come to a point where how am I gonna play college ball all these girls have been
playing basketball since they were 10 and like 18 and but then I realized that for
one thing I have to height advantage and I’m the heart so I did let that
discourage me okay whatever school I go to I’m just
gonna, my goal was to go to a junior college where I could develop
my skills like whatever school I go to I’m just gonna put in work and just go
for this so I didn’t let that bring me down but I did have a ugh I should have started earlier. Well, I already started so let’s just keep going. Well, I’ll tell you heart is as important as pure talent.
You can have your talent be great if your heart and great without the other
one but when you have both of them the dangerous combination. Now after that you went to Santa Fe College, also in Gainesville where you earn Mid Florida
conference scholar athlete of the week once and a spot on the all academic team. As a sophomore you played 30 games with 28 starts average nine point four points
we’re gonna boast on you a little bit here a team-best eleven point four
rebounds a game scored a season high 22 points against Daytona State, grabbed a
season-high 19 rebounds against Daytona State I believe on a later date blocked
a season-high 12 shots vs. Central Florida
you were FCSAA all Mid Florida Conference first-team selection so that
was all even before coming to Flagler you’re already starting to open
some eyes up and now my question to you is what opened your eyes up to Flagler
because you know it’s a small it’s a smaller school you know you think about
college basketball you think about you know the Dukes and you know women’s side
you think about UConn about Tennessee and things like that a the DI level and being from Nigeria you probably certainly had never heard of Flagler so what
introduced you to coach E, Erika Lang – Montgomery for the folks at home and Flagler College women’s basketball what got you introduce
to that? I remember the game I went to my locker, we had we had won that game and I looked it was fancy envelope and it said Flagler. I was just so nice and pretty, that’s not why I came here, it was such a nice fancy folder and hand written notes and then my teammate Bri Roberts, I played one year with her, she came here and I was like okay I’ll go to Flagler and I start
looking at it I was like pretty campus and then I came here and I remember I
went for a visit and so I have an American family here, my Guardians
and in my family back home and throughout the recruiting process most coaches that
talked to me wanting to talk to my family game which was a good thing but
coach Erica was the only one they really wouldn’t talk to my mom back home and
throughout the visit she was like call your mom let’s talk to your mom and I
was like my mom, mom? She’s like yeah talk to your mom
and it was really like I don’t know it just really stood out yeah I mean my
family I love them and my mom back home she doesn’t, whenever I to show her what
I do she’s like I don’t know what you’re doing but good job. I saw you had I saw
they put you on here good job I don’t know what this means but she could not
understand the basketball game and so I could see why
yeah but she just it was just really nice how she said
call your mom and I was like she really wants to talk to my mom back home so it just felt
it was just more the family place and look at this place, it’s so pretty. and then like my teammate, I was gonna play
with her in a year and the girls, already here, everything just when I came
on my visit like I didn’t want to go (elsewhere) it was just fun it was just this felt like
felt like home and I remember going to Skeeter’s office and he
had my schedule till I graduated I was like oh these people are prepared. We set up my classes, like if you take these classes and these classes, everything, and then the coaches to I knew that if I came here and if I worked
hard like we could do great things and like just be a great time so it wasn’t a hard
decision. that’s great yeah that’s always good to
hear and so it wasn’t a hard decision coming here and well we’ve enjoyed every
second of it on and off the court but if you want to talk about things on the
court you are a senior this year junior year you averaged ten point one a game
twelve point two rebounds game you broke the school single-season record
with a hundred five blocked shots in the season had a team high 13 double doubles you
also recorded the first Flagler triple-double 20 points 15 boards and 12
blocks at Young Harris you were ranked second in the country and blocked shots
at four point four per game fourth the rebounds per game twelve point two and also in defensive
rebounds per game at nine and six four rebounds a game or broke the school
record four rebounds in the game of 23 in North Georgia you were selected once
is PBC’s Player of the Week and you were also the conference’s Defensive Player
of the Year and equally is important because you know everyone here is a
student-athlete you were a PBC presidential honor roll Presidential
Scholar let’s talk about that a little bit because academics and athletics is
not always easy to balance how’s that been like? What are you was studying
here? I’m studying psychology and sociology What’s it been like balancing the two? I
don’t know if it’s because when I started playing basketball I was already a
student so I was never just like it was when I started playing basketball in high
school I was already doing that with sports so there was that that getting used to
and then when you have like coaches well first of all if you don’t do good in
class you can’t play so it’s like just knowing that is motivation enough and
well I really want to play basketball but then again I really want to do good in
class but just knowing that that’s not just about me it’s about your teammates, it’s like you need to study for that test you’re studying to get that degree and
you’re studying to pass that exam and be successful in life but at that moment
you’re studying also, if you don’t pass you can’t play and you’re gonna let your
teammates down so it’s not only you it’s other people and so I feel like that
just makes that will that you know motivation so it just like comes with it
so you just push through and then we’re on the roads we have study hall
and the professors are really lenient with us like we miss the class get notes
from someone to help but sometimes you can make it up so having the professor’s
being accommodating having your coaches pushing you and your teammates like that
really helps you find that balance. On the basketball court
things have been not just for you but for the entire program on an upswing
last year the team made the peach belt conference tournament unfortunately an
early exit but it’s something that you can learn from so it’s such a great year
last year and this year is turning into very much the same thing what can
you take from the experience last year say hey this is what we need to do to go
further in the peach belt conference tournament and then make the
NCAA tournament. I know last year whenever we’re walking up people like
congrats you had a great yeah I’m like I mean we did but we knew that we
underachieved we knew that we could have done better
we knew that we had the pieces but we just in put it together and we take that
from last year were like okay this year we have the pieces again and we don’t
want to just go to the tournament just that be it we know we can go further so
having that last year’s experience that pushes a step I remember during the
summer when the season ended we had like scores from games that they’re
really big games that we should have won that might have
disqualified us and we had a new locker room and you just walk in and you see
that number you see that 56 57 or that like that one game you should have won
and did that just falls on you and maybe just ok well this year we have to we
know we don’t just want a good year like we want a great year.
It’s obviously you want to play a home in postseason play which you got to do
last year and right now the team is sitting in a good position to be able to
host again for obvious reasons you want to play at home but really what makes it
so special to be able to play a postseason game at home the fans the
comfort of knowing your surroundings what does it means the team?
well I remember last year and I looked up and I was like oh my gosh, there was no space. We made video and told people to come out, but I wasn’t expecting
people to come out like. First you want to win and then people around you cheering and supporting me so you
playing for so much bigger than all the love so yeah I know that like means a
lot to me my teammates oh and the support we get is crazy so you know
which is that feeling of being at home. It was an incredible
atmosphere last year for that game and like I said you guys are in a good
position again if you should do so very much
looking forward to what the fans can bring out to Flagler gymnasium because that was
something special. I was like they really came to support us. It was great. Looking towards the future obviously not
everyone knows what they want to do post school some people 50 years old
and still don’t know what they want do it but do you have an idea of what’s next for you? I
want to go to grad school but I want to take a year off and then go back to grad school. well hey there is nothing wrong with that. That’s great, grad school on the horizon and absolutely taking the year off will be I think well-deserved
well-deserved after being incredibly career you’ve turned in, two seasons here and your two seasons at Santa Fe and your transition from different countries to
is an impressive feat in itself so Tabitha thank you very much for joining
us we’re very happy to be able to talk to you we’re very excited to see what this
women’s basketball team does coming up here we have two games left one this
Wednesday and then next Saturday the March 2nd which is Senior Day so that
will be a special one for you for sure and we look forward to it we’ll look
forward to the conference tournament we’re looking forward to potentially hosting
the conference tournament game here at Flagler

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