Photo credit: Morgan Torchia

From England to America: Irekpitan Ozzy-Momodu’s journey to Robert Morris

March 20, 2018

Center Irekpitan Ozzy-Momodu is a freshman on the RMU women’s basketball team this season. Ozzy-Momodu is one of four international newcomers on this season’s team and one of seven total international players on the roster. However, she is the only player to hail from London, England.

Ozzy-Momodu has been playing the game of basketball since she was 11 years old but this is her first time playing the game overseas. With that, comes a different style of the game. That style also involves how the seasons are set up. Robert Morris’s season runs November through March. The Colonials typically play two games a week and have a more structured schedule during conference play as they typically play games on Monday’s and Saturday’s. However, in England, Ozzy-Momodu has experienced a different type of game schedule due to playing in more than one league. Now, she only has to worry about one team.

“I am used to playing two games in one day and then the next day having two games and then traveling to those games. But here, it’s just one season instead of multiple different ones,” Ozzy-Momodu said.

According to Ozzy-Momodu, there is more than just the schedule format that makes basketball in England different than that in America. The differences are seen in the place of play, in the rules, the physicality and the amount of good teams in a league. Ozzy-Momodu said that not every team is good and there may be one or two good teams in a league.

The difference between the speed and the pace of the game, however, is one that Ozzy-Momodu hasn’t had to adjust to due to the style of basketball her former team in England played.

“The pace that people play, it’s slow in England. You can jog up the floor if you really wanted to, but the team I played for, we were really good so we would run teams up and down the floor,” Ozzy-Momodu said.

Ozzy-Momodu was recruited by Head Coach Charlie Buscaglia, or Coach B as he is frequently referred to as by the team. Ozzy-Momodu said that her recruiting process was long with a lot of phone calls but she was able to make a good connection with Buscaglia.

“When I came on my visit here (RMU), It was a very good experience. I like the school and the girls were really nice,”-Ozzy Momodu said.

Ozzy-Momodu was being actively recruited my multiple different schools and Universities in the United States of America but it was the connection she made with Buscaglia that made her choose Robert Morris over the other school and programs.

“The way my old coach was, I saw a similarity. I felt like it wouldn’t be much of a change. Obviously it would be a step higher with the level I’m going to but I felt like Coach B generally cared and I felt safe to come here (RMU) and my mom felt safe for me to come here as well,” said Ozzy-Momodu. “It was my decision, but her opinion is valid to my decision as well,” Ozzy-Momodu added.

Traveling to America to begin a college career isn’t easy, but Ozzy-Momodu has gotten help from the coaches and the upperclassman to make sure her transition from a life in England to America was a good. The one key to her transition from England to the States was the coaching staff and players telling Ozzy-Momodu what to expect before it happened.

“The upperclassman are really helpful and very supportive and I can talk to them if I’m having an issue or if I’m ever home sick, they’re there and it helps to be international sometimes because you feel like you’re not the only one who is homesick, like they’re are other people as well,” said Ozzy-Momodu.

Before her time at RMU, Ozzy-Momodu was apart of the All-WEABL (Women’s Elite Academy Basketball League) First Team as well as being Cup Finals MVP. This moment gave Ozzy-Momodu the confidence to play American collegiate basketball.

“That was a great experience, probably that year was the best time of my basketball career ever, as a senior on my team,” Ozzy Momodu said. “It did give me confidence and knowing Coach B was watching my games, it made me feel happy and excited to come here even more than I was excited when I first committed. It was great,” Ozzy-Momodu went on to say.

Ozzy-Momodu had a fantastic finish to her high school basketball career in England and still keeps in touch with her coaches as she currently plays for Robert Morris. Before heading to Robert Morris, her coaches in England gave Ozzy-Momodu the advice of staying focused and to listen. To listen to her new coaches at RMU.

As an international player, Ozzy-Momodu would tell other international players wanting to come play collegiate basketball in the states to come focused.

“You have to work hard. It’s not going to be easy and you just really have to push forward with stuff. You can’t let anything hold you back. If you want to do something, or if your coaches told you to do something, then you should do it one-hundred percent,” Ozzy Momodu said. “Just be the best person you can and come open-mindedly, because don’t come thinking you know everything already. Come wanting to learn and wanting to be coached and wanting to make yourself better, so by the time you leave, you’ll be a completely different person to when you walked in, just want to grow altogether” Ozzy Momodu said.


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