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Brazilian foreign exchange student Bruna Moratori is playing tennis for Coupeville High School this spring. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Moratori and teammates stretch before a practice.

Talk about a change of pace.

When Bruna Moratori traveled to America to become a foreign exchange student, she swapped life in the most populous city in the Western Hemisphere for a town with one traffic light.

Back home in São Paulo, Brazil, she lives with her parents, brother and dog amid a sea of humans in “a big, beautiful, and dangerous city.”

This year, though, Moratori has swapped a bustling city which never sleeps for a much more laid-back Coupeville, where she’s attending high school and preparing to play tennis with the Wolves.

While she’s spent a little time on the courts, this will be the first time she’s been part of a competitive team.

“I don’t play any sports at home, just sometimes for fun,” Moratori said. “I played tennis a few years ago but it was just for fun; I’ve never played against someone.

“I decided to join because I really like it and I had a lot of free time, so why not.”

When she was thinking about trying out for the tennis team, it was support from back home which made it an easy decision.

“One of the main reasons that I joined tennis was because my father encouraged me since the moment that I told him that I was thinking about it,” Moratori said.

Taking time to enjoy new opportunities has been a key part of her American adventure.

“My mother always had the dream of me going somewhere and learning a new language, so she always talked about it and I said that it would be a good experience,” Moratori said.

“I like how right now I’m in sort of a “break” from my life and I get to know a lot of different things,” she added. “Also I like to learn new cultures and the new language.”

Moratori, who turns 18 in early April, spends her free time “listening to a lot of music, reading, watching TV shows, and many other things.”

When she returns to São Paulo, she plans “to enjoy the summer; that is actually at the end of the year.”

After that she will either start college or plunge into a job.

Coming to America has helped Moratori develop new skills and find new confidence in herself.

“Here is learning English and learning how to be on my own without my family,” she said. “I still want to know other cultures and maybe learn other languages.”

Whether at home or abroad, Moratori draws inspiration from those closest to her.

“I guess I’m a little bit of every woman that have been into my life and all the books that I’ve read,” she said. “But my biggest inspirations are my mother, my grandmothers and my godmother.”

Of all the memories she will take with her, one of the biggest will be how unique her new home away from home turned out to be.

“Coupeville is a very small and quiet city and I live in a huge city with a lot of people, a lot of things to do, a lot of noise, traffic and all of that,” Moratori said. “I miss there, but I really like here, it’s beautiful and people are so nice to each other.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m completely adjusted because it’s very different from there, but I’m sure that when I go back I’ll have to readjust to there,” she added.

“Coupeville reminds me a lot of our countryside, so it’s kind of what I expected, but a few things were very weird for me, like people waving at me, even though I don’t even know them.”

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Coupeville grad Makana Stone (left), on tour with an all-star basketball team in Brazil, poses with a local player. (Photos courtesy Stone)

Team USA, ready to rumble on foreign soil.

Visiting the world-famous, 125-foot high, Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio.

Stone, who will be a junior at Whitman College, reps her Team USA colors.

Basketball has been very, very good to Makana Stone.

The hoops life has taken the Coupeville grad around the world, with a big highlight being a trip to Brazil that’s just wrapping up.

Stone, a junior at Whitman College, was picked to be part of a 10-player USA D-III women’s basketball team.

She and her teammates played four games in Brazil, facing off with squads from Jundiai, Santa Andre, Queimados and Fluminese.

The second of those four rivals was a pro team.

For Stone, who was an All-League First-Team pick during her sophomore season at Whitman, the trip has been everything she expected, and more.

“It has been a once in a lifetime experience!,” she said. “I’ve gotten the opportunity to play with some of the USA and Brazil’s best players.

“The talent out here is unreal,” Stone added. “I’m thankful to have been able to have the chance to play with and against it.”

While on the trip, the Team USA players (a men’s squad joined Stone and Co. on the road) got to experience the culture and food of Brazil.

They also had an opportunity to work with the next generation of hoops stars, something Stone loved.

“One of my favorite parts of this trip was being able to hold a clinic for Brazilian kids in Rio,” she said.

The act of putting the ball in the hoop bridged any gaps between people from different countries.

“There was a bit of a language barrier and they laughed at my attempts to use Portuguese,” Stone said with a chuckle.

“But, there’s really nothing like making new friends through a little basketball on the streets of Rio!”

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Coupeville grad Makana Stone is off to Brazil as part of an all-star basketball team. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Basketball has carried Makana Stone from Cow Town to Brazil.

The Coupeville High School grad, who has spent the past two seasons ripping up the floor at Whitman College, has been tabbed to join the USA D-III Women’s Basketball Team.

As a member of the 10-player squad, Stone is jetting off to Brazil and will be overseas July 16-25, playing four games while there.

The trip, set up by USA Sports Tours and Events, has American women and men’s teams playing games against Jundiai, Santa Andre, Queimados and Fluminese.

The Santa Andre women’s squad is a pro team.

When they’re not playing and practicing, the USA hoops teams will have a chance to experience everything Brazil has to offer.

The players will visit schools and sports clubs, and will have a chance to see the Christ the Redeemer Statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain, two of the most recognizable landmarks in the world.

Stone, who is entering her junior year at Whitman, is the lone player on the tour to hail from Washington state.

The women’s team includes athletes from nine states and a variety of colleges, and will be led by coaches from Luther College in Iowa.

Stone is coming off a sophomore season in which she torched the nets for 12.3 points a game, snatched 7.2 boards a night and was named a First-Team All-Conference pick by the Northwest Conference.

Whitman has advanced to the NCAA tourney in both of her seasons, piling up a 48-10 record in her time in Walla Walla.

While growing up in Coupeville, playing soccer and basketball and running track, Stone put together one of the best individual prep sports careers the town has seen.

A two-time CHS Female Athlete of the Year (who should have been at least a three-timer and I will never stop arguing she was robbed as a freshman), she finished as the #3 scorer in Wolf girls basketball history.

Stone also has the most state meet medals of any Wolf female track competitor, and kicked off her high school career by winning her first 28 races – the best streak in the history of CHS.

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One birthday, three transcendent stars. CHS supernovas (clockwise, from left) Mattea Miller, Arisbeth Montiel, Julia Borges. (John Fisken photos)

   One birthday, three transcendent stars. CHS supernovas (clockwise, from left) Mattea Miller, Arisbeth Montiel and Julia Borges. (John Fisken photos)

We are in a golden age of female athletics in Coupeville.

Now sure, there are a lot of very talented male athletes as well. But, as a group, the women are kicking butt and taking names.

From last year’s league title winning girls’ basketball and tennis squads on down, the young women who wear the red and black at CHS are a talented, confident bunch.

And today is a magical day in which three bright shining stars all share a birthday, united by currently calling Cow Town home and by their general awesomeness.

Julia Borges is the newest addition, having arrived from Brazil to spend a year on The Rock as a foreign exchange student.

Already she is front and center with the Wolf cheer squad, her radiant smile beaming out as she joins in with her teammates during football games.

There is little rhyme or reason to where foreign exchange students are sent to, but, once again, we hit the jackpot by getting one of the best available.

Julia has been an outstanding addition to Wolf Nation, one who will always be a part of our little world, even after she heads home to the big city.

Joining her in celebrating her day of cake is Arisbeth Montiel, a two-way terror who joins Borges on the Wolf cheer squad while also being one of the leading goal scorers for the Coupeville girls’ soccer squad.

Whether she’s banging home scores on the soccer pitch, where she teams up with Kalia and Mia Littlejohn to form a potent trio putting the fear of God into opposing goalies, or working the pom poms, Arisbeth is another stellar addition to a group of Wolf female athletes taking the world by storm.

And capping our birthday trio is the legend herself, Mattea Miller, the Alaskan Assassin, who has sparkled in so many sports it’s hard to keep count.

Soccer, basketball, track. She can do it all and more, and remains, like best friend Valen Trujillo, the gold standard for student/athletes at CHS.

Mattea has never been one to shout and scream and thump herself on the chest. Instead, she is the athlete who quietly does whatever is necessary, the dirty work or the star work, and sparkles at it all.

If they come to us and say, go pick someone who your town can hold up proudly, as an athlete, but even more so, as a person, a young woman of class and determination, who always shows love for her family and friends, someone who is worthy of being hailed for her character and her sweet nature, someone who will fight on the field but embrace others afterwards, Miller accomplishes all of that.

She is one of the special ones.

As all three of these young women — top scholars, feisty athletes, special people — celebrate their cake day, we want to wish them the best.

Arisbeth, Julia, Mattea, you make this town better for your presence. May your day sparkle as much as you all do.

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Julia Borges

Julia Borges (Photo courtesy Borges)

Coupeville cheer will have a Brazilian accent this year.

This addition of foreign exchange student Julia Borges adds a big city touch to small town athletics.

The newest Wolf hails from São Paulo, the most populous city in the Western hemisphere and the 13th biggest in the entire world.

Estimates of the population run from 11-19 million (depending on whether you count the metropolitan area surrounding the city).

And now Borges will call Coupeville, with a population of less than 1,900, home for the next school year.

The quiet, and the weather, have been the biggest transitions so far.

“I was afraid to live in a town so different from Sao Paulo, but I am adjusting so well here!,” Borges said. “My host family is so nice and everyone I have already met is nice and helpful too!

“That is the biggest surprise I had and my biggest challenge here is the cold weather, which I am not used to.”

Borges has many supporters back home (“I have a big family with a lot of cousins and relatives”) and their faith in her made it easier to travel around the globe.

“I always wanted to be an exchange student and my family always supported that idea!,” Borges said. “I intend to improve my English, to be more independent, to meet new people and to have a different experience!”

Like most foreign exchange students, she had no idea where she would end up, but she’s quickly adjusting to the culture shock.

“Coupeville was a surprise destination and now I am sure it is the perfect town for my exchange!,” Borges said. “Everybody here is so friendly and nice!”

While she’s never been a cheerleader before, Borges, who hopes to also play tennis for CHS in the spring, has been a dancer for most of her life, which should help.

“It is not common to have cheer-leading team in Brazil, so that is a different experience that all the Brazilian girls would like to have,” she said. “I love dancing and I have been practicing it in Brazil since I was a child, so being a cheerleader is similar.”

Borges also plays the piano and enjoys movies and music. After her year in America, she plans to return to her home country and study architecture.

And, while her Coupeville odyssey is just beginning, she already has plans for return visits.

“I intend to come back here later and visit everyone from Coupeville that I will miss so much!”

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