Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Cris Matochi, who started playing as a young man in Brazil, brings an extensive  volleyball background to his new job as a Coupeville Middle School coach. (Photos courtesy Matochi)

“I truly love being here and working with these incredible kids.”

Having traveled around the world in pursuit of volleyball excellence, Cris Matochi brings a deep knowledge and appreciation of the sport with him.

And now, against considerable odds, the Brazilian native has landed at Coupeville Middle School, tabbed as a new spiker coach ready to help launch the Wolves into a new stratosphere.

The longtime player and coach, who is an Environmental Health Specialist for the Island County Health Department, has lived and worked in big cities from Los Angeles to Louisiana.

But it’s The Rock which calls to him now.

“After visiting Whidbey, I instantly felt in love with the island and the community and decided to move here,” Matochi said. “I received an incredible opportunity to work at Island County and I did not think twice before making the move.”

Love played a big part in the transition, as well.

“However, the biggest reason I moved here was to be closer to Cory, as he is my life partner and soulmate,” Matochi said with a smile.

The Cory in question would be Cory Whitmore, who has lit a fire under the Coupeville High School volleyball program in his four years as head coach.

Cris is a great addition to the staff and brings an incredible amount of experience to the program,” Whitmore said.

“He has a magnetic personality that will be a huge inspiration to his players and is a hard worker with a deep passion for the sport and a deep commitment to the community.

“I’m really looking forward to working with him as we push the program to new heights.”

The chance to combine his love of volleyball with a chance to work with his partner made Matochi’s decision to accept the CMS job an easy one.

“I am absolutely ecstatic to coach these kids at Coupeville,” Matochi said. “This is such an incredible community and I feel so lucky to be accepted with so much love.”

In his time on the job, Whitmore has helped shape the CHS program into one which expects to compete for league titles and trips to the state tourney.

With the middle school and high school programs working in tandem, expect the growth to continue.

“My goal for the upcoming season is to be able to develop players that not only excel in volleyball but also in school and life,” Matochi said. “There is so much more than just playing volleyball, and making a good experience out of it is always my number one priority.

“When kids truly love the sport, everything else falls in place,” he added.

“My long term goal is to be able to help Cory create a volleyball powerhouse for this community, and preparing the young ages for high school, and potentially college.”

Matochi began his own volleyball odyssey as a young man in Brazil, first pursuing the sport at age nine.

By the time he was 14, he was playing for the city team in Sorocaba, while already working as a coach with older players.

The team’s head coach pulled double duty, helming a professional women’s team, and gave Matochi a chance to help out at practices.

When the assistant coach departed mid-season, his replacement was already in the gym.

“I was super young and inexperienced but the fact the I also played for him helped me to be able to coach the players consistently with his style of coaching,” Matochi said.

Jump forward a few months, and when the head coach ran for a city council position, he asked the young spiker to run practices.

Matochi has been coaching since he was a teen.

From there, it was a whirlwind of advancement, with Matochi heading onwards and upwards in the coaching world.

A coach from an NCAA D-I school in America came to town to size up the local talent, and quickly began to pick the mind of the young volleyball savant.

After he helped her recruit players, she aided Matochi in launching his American coaching career.

“Because I did not speak English at that time, she placed me in a junior college in Oklahoma where I coached for three years and got my associate’s degree,” Matochi said.

“After graduating, I transferred to be her assistant at the University of Louisiana, where I coached with her for six seasons.”

Matochi also coached Cajun Elite volleyball, a national traveling team which featured players with college and professional experience.

He could have remained a success in the deep South, but the bright lights of California came calling.

While working as an actor, Matochi coached at the Los Angeles Volleyball Academy, one of the top clubs in the nation, as well as working as director for a middle school program at Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth.

Ruling the beach volleyball scene.

After deciding to pursue a PhD in Environmental Science at Washington State University, he swapped out Cali life for the Evergreen state, but never left the volleyball world.

From working at Wazzu volleyball camps to his new Coupeville gig, Matochi’s appreciation of the game, and his desire to help others, has never waned.

“I would like for my players to get to truly LOVE volleyball and have fun while doing it,” he said. “I also want them to be able to use volleyball as a tool for success with their curricular, social and professional endeavors.”

A chance to impart joy, while preaching hard work and commitment, is what brings him to the gym every day.

“Volleyball practices are the highlight of my day,” Matochi said.

“I am very energetic and passionate, and I will always work extra hard to make sure that players and parents have a good experience with this incredible sport that provided me everything that I have today.”

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Brazilian foreign exchange student Julia Borges built a substantial fan club during her time in Coupeville. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Gone, but never forgotten.

Julia Borges was only in Coupeville for a single school year, but she made a positive impression on everyone she met.

Facing culture shock, as the Brazilian native left São Paulo, the most populous city in the Western hemisphere, only to land smack-dab in the middle of Cow Town, USA, she responded by embracing every challenge.

During her year (2015-2016) as a foreign exchange student, Julia jumped headfirst into everything Coupeville offered.

A dancer, she joined the CHS cheer squad, taking advantage of an opportunity not generally offered in her own country.

“It is not common to have cheer-leading teams in Brazil, so that is a different experience that all the Brazilian girls would like to have,” she said back in the summer of 2015.

“I love dancing and I have been practicing it in Brazil since I was a child, so being a cheerleader is similar.”

Julia caught on so quickly, she cheered for her new classmates through both football and basketball season, and was selected as Most Improved by her coaches.

When the spring came around in 2016, she picked up a tennis racket and headed to the courts.

Along with two seasons as a cheerleader, Borges also played tennis for the Wolves.

There she proved to be a perfect doubles partner, teaming up with Julianne Sem to form a dangerous duo for a Wolf net squad which won a league title.

What always impressed me the most about Julia during her time in Coupeville was her quiet strength and how she showed kindness to all, whether they were teammates or foes.

Going from a home of 19 million people to a town of less than 1,900 had to be a huge transition.

Like all foreign exchange students, Julia would have been dealing with language barriers and perhaps some home sickness.

She responded by bringing out the best in those around her by simply being herself, a truly lovely young woman.

Julia might not have set any sports records while she wore the red and black of Coupeville, but she was a winner in every way.

She got the most out of her life-changing experience, and left behind a legion of fans.

While she might be a world away from Whidbey Island these days, Julia will always be a vital part of Wolf Nation – her serene spirit lighting up the universe.

So today we want to induct Miss Borges into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, to insure she always knows how highly everyone here regards her.

After this, if you stroll past the Legends tab at the top of the blog, you’ll find her there, a true Wolf, now and forever.

Thank you, Julia, for visiting our lil’ chunk of the globe and making it a much-better place while you were here.

As you become a soaring success out there in the world, always know you have two hometowns – the one where you were born, and the one that has adopted you as one of our own.

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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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