The University of Hartford women's basketball program is still looking for its first win of the season. They’re off to a difficult 0-11 start, but the Hawks are also playing with mostly new faces.
All of them are learning to play at the next level and some of them are even learning to speak English at the same time.
Freshman Carmen Villalobos is adjusting to college life just like any first year, but unlike most, she’s coming to Hartford all the way from Spain.
“For me, the family, the culture, the food, everything is different here,” Villalobos said.
But she doesn't have to go it alone: fellow freshman Irene Primo is also from Spain.
”The main purpose for being here for us is playing at a high level and studying because it's hard to do that in Spain,” Primo said.
Primo played some basketball in the U.S. while she was in high school. Sometimes she helps translate for Villalobos. The tricky part can sometimes be translating to their teammates.
“Sometimes you just want to say something that you're seeing or you want to tell someone what they have to do and you can't because you don't have the words,” Primo said. “Or you have them but they don't understand what you're saying.”
But everyone, in every language, is trying.
”Like [Villalobos] is always cheering the team saying ‘vamos, vamos, vamos,’ and they try like sometimes they say the same thing so it's funny and it makes me feel good how everyone is trying… to say little things,” said Primo.
To add to the challenge, both Primo and Villalobos weren’t recruited until later in the summer, so they didn’t get a chance to start learning with the team until they came to campus for the fall semester.
The Hawks are back in action on Saturday when they’ll face in-state rivals, CCSU.