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Ryan Stephan
College athletes across the nation use the summer to condition and practice for the upcoming season. For Colorado Mesa University men’s basketball player Ryan Stephan it involved flying halfway around the world to play for the Southwest Metro Pirates based in Brisbane, Australia.


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Big in Australia

College athletes across the nation use the summer to condition and practice for the upcoming season. For Colorado Mesa University men’s basketball player Ryan Stephan it involved flying halfway around the world to play for the Southwest Metro Pirates based in Brisbane, Australia.

“I was contacted by the assistant coach Peter Pollock on Facebook,” said Stephan. “Alex Herrera from Fort Lewis played for them last year and after discussing it with my parents I decided to give it a try.”

Stephan didn’t have much time to get his feet under him playing his first game just days after arriving.

He was a novelty in Australia for both his size and being an American. “I was easily one of the biggest players in the league,” said Stephan who stands 6-foot-10. “Every team has one or two big post players, and then it is a bunch of 5-foot-9 to 6-foot-2 guys. My uniform also fit like a glove. They gave me an extra large when I am usually a three X.”

Stephan said basketball is still growing in Australia so the officiating during his games was a little rough. “The refs are young and short so they didn’t really understand post play. I fouled out three of my first five games.”

His height, combined with the fact that he played college basketball, made him a fan favorite. “I wouldn’t even play in a game and kids wanted to get their picture taken with me because I was so tall. They also found it amazing that I played college hoops in America,” said Stephan, who finished fourth in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division II in scoring last season at 25.3 points per game.

Despite poor facilities and a growing league, the quality of play was pretty high. “My team only won three games, but we would have won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference,” said Stephan.

One of the reasons that Stephan decided to play in Australia was to see if he could adjust to living abroad as he hopes to play professionally on the international level following his senior season.

“There were definitely some differences between America and Australia, but I was able to adapt pretty well,” said Stephan. “They speak English, and I was able to learn to drive on the left side of the road. One major difference is that Kentucky Fried Chicken was way better. I can’t really describe it, but it was better.”

He also used his free time to tour different parts of the country. His favorite destination was Perth where he was able to spend a few days with his father who was traveling on business

Stephan’s time in the Land Down Under was cut short after sustaining an injury, but he remains positive about his experience. “The team has already offered me an opportunity to come back, and I would really like to go back.”
By Ian Marks

Media Contact

Dana Nunn, Director of Media Relations

dnunn@coloradomesa.edu

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