Every kids journey is different, and rarely do they come without some kind of struggle. However, Stef’s story is one that I wouldn’t wish on any kid. Especially on one who is lost in a foreign country with no one to turn to. You can, and should, go read the complete story about him and his friends journey when he left Serbia and first got to America here:
Stefan Nakic – Lost in America: https://www.theledger.com/article/LK/20150319/News/608071606/LL/
Stef said that his early years in the states had its ups and downs and were filled with many unknowns. Through all of the chaos that was brought about at the prep school Stef finally found a college home at Polk State Junior College, where he was named 2nd team all conference in 2017-18. Stef said that these past five years in the United States were a blessing for me athletically and academically, and after JUCO, he was fortunate enough to find his fit at Florida College.
Stef said that as soon as he met the coaches at Florida College he knew that was the right place for him. He credits the school being small and thus it is big on providing a family-like environment for all of the students. With English being his second language, sometimes he needs more attention in the classroom and what he liked the most about Florida College was that he would be getting that there.
Coach Todd played a big role in his decision as well. He says that Coach Todd is a different type of coach. That coach truly cares about his players and wants to get to know them personally before actually coaching them. Stef loved that Coach Todd takes interest in each and every player. He really enjoys playing for Coach. The style of coaching suits him and Coach Todd and Coach Teichmann helped him to have the best numbers that he has averaged in his career this past season. Stef said that he is truly grateful to have a person like Coach Todd in his corner.
The Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) has also brought the best out of Stef. He says that it is a really tough and fun conference. The teams are so athletic and skilled, and it makes every night a grind. Basketball itself is fun for Stef but when he can go out and play every night against tough competitors he thinks it makes it that much more fun. Stef followed that up by saying that every team brings something else to the table and the diversity it brings has brought him a lot of joy during his basketball career. For Stef, being able to travel all over to play games is also a very fun adventure. He gets to see different parts of the United States that he wouldn’t get to see if it weren’t for basketball, and for that he is very grateful.
Stef believes that the NAIA is very underrated. He is shocked that people think that just because it isn’t NCAA D1, that the level of play isn’t as tough, but he has been really shocked about how seriously talent some of the players at this level are. Stef knows that the best players always find themselves playing pro basketball after college. He hopes that kids stop looking at the divisions that programs play in, and focus on what program fits you the best. If you go to the wrong program, you may risk not playing, and if you don’t get playing time, it will be harder to make it into a professional career.
Headed into his senior year, Stef is looking forward to getting back out there with his new teammates and trying to make a trip to the national tournament. He believes that they have a good recruiting class coming in and can’t wait to go to battle with those guys. Stef is expecting a lot from himself and team as they have lofty goals, and want to reach them. Stef doesn’t want to leave Florida College without leaving one last mark for the program.
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