Dec. 4, 2007
Tapiwa Marobela came to Florida State University as a young 17 year-old to play tennis and pursue education. Maybe it is not that unusual until we mention that now, after over three years at FSU, she is a 20 year old senior. Nevertheless, in Botswana, where Marobela comes from, it isn’t that usual either.
“It is not quite normal to finish high school this early,” Marobela said. “I started 1st grade early, at age of six instead of usual seven. After that, when I was in the sixth grade, I took a high school entrance exam that is for the seven graders and I passed it. That way I was accepted to high school when I was 12,” Marobela continued.
Even though Marobela started high school so young, she was not afraid of challenge that this transition could have been for her. She studied and played hard as if her young age was nothing unusual.
As early as 16 she graduated from high school and was ready to go to college. This is when problems started. Her mother, Chillisoma Marobela, thought that she was too young to travel all the way to the USA.
“My mother wanted me to wait until January when I was 18 but it was too long to wait between graduating high school in 2003 and starting college in 2005! So we came to a compromise,” Marobela said.
After Marobela was granted permission from parents, she packed her bags and got ready for a new experience. Old saying says that the beginnings are always hard but Marobela didn’t find the beginning at FSU all that hard.
“Since I was 13, I basically lived away from home at a tennis academy in South Africa. I was used to being away from my parents for a long period of time and it made my transition to college a lot easier,” Marobela stated.
Naturally, she also had her ups and downs but she was lucky that her freshmen year she lived in the dorms. It made it possible for her to meet students who were in a similar situation to hers. In addition, she met many people from her homeland who helped her in her transition making it more comfortable.
“The hardest part was being homesick but I was lucky I meet new people and this helped a lot. I also brought pictures of family and friends and this made my dorm room feel a little bit like home,” Marobela said. .
Now that she looks back a little, she considers coming to FSU a great choice. Not only because of the people she met but also because of a great experience that she has had on the team. To Marobela, college is part of becoming a complete person.
“I have learned a lot about myself and others in college (which is supposed to happen) and I have learned to be more independent. My experience on the team has aided in my personal development as a person, as I have learned about teamwork, trust and overcoming obstacles,” Marobela said.
The season 2006-2007 was historical to the tennis program because Lady Seminoles reached the highest ranking in the women’s tennis history. Marobela is also convinced that this whole season she can consider a great and the best experience so far.
“Every single match we played was a great experience but now we have to look ahead. I plan on helping in making this year the most successful for the women’s tennis and also for myself,” Marobela added.
Marobela enjoys her life in the USA and being part of the team but she says that no matter how accustom a person may get, it is always good to go back home. Of course, it is not as easy as going home across the state so whenever she gets to visit her homeland, she makes sure she makes everything out of it.
“Last time I went home, it was for Christmas 2006. As it is family tradition, we always go on vacation over Christmas break. This time we went to the northern part of Botswana, called Kasana and the Okavango Delta. I have to say that Dr. Billie Jones went there last summer and loved it! So, we went camping for four days and saw lions, elephants, giraffes, etc. I was just nine yard away from them. The nine yards that comes with a great trip to Africa!
After Marobela gets back from home, she immediately regains her focus and tries to plan her future. For her nearest future, except for making the season 2007-2008 even more successful, she plans to graduate in April and then look for internships or entry level jobs in her field of sports management that she is majoring in.
“I will work in sports industry, and later on in about two years or so, I plan on pursuing an MBA in sports business. I don’t think I have to do it right away, which is why I want to give myself a break. After all I am only 20,” Marobela added.
By teammate Ania Rynarzewska