MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – He’s 6 feet 9 inches tall, 6 feet 11 inches if you include the mess of curls on top of his head. Andre Coimbra has come a long way from his hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Mount Pleasant. So how did he get here?
In Brazil, Coimbra didn’t play basketball – he worked. Coming to America in 2008 changed everything. "This was a dream, I got a degree; it changed my life," said Coimbra.
After a coach at his junior college, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, saw a video of him playing basketball, Coimbra traveled to America. For the first six months he didn’t speak English, and he didn’t want to learn. CMU assistant coach Darren Kohne began the recruiting process after Coimbra's two years as a Norsemen.
Coimbra’s decision came down to CMU and Kansas City, and he chose Central because of the small-town atmosphere, the men’s basketball program, and the new facilities - the arena at Rose Center was in the process of becoming McGuirk Arena, part of CMU’s brand new Events Center.
"I bring energy to the team. I get rebounds, play defense. The team is gaining confidence and we are changing for the better," said Coimbra. "I’m excited to play. I play from the heart, this is a game where you need to do that."
This is only his second semester here; his major is health fitness, and along with being a big part of the basketball team, he is a CMU student. He enjoys going to class, and he finds time to have fun as well.
When asked about his fans, which include a group of students who waive a Brazilian flag at every home game, he said, "they appreciate that we work hard. Those people [who hold the Brazilian flag] are amazing. It’s a little piece of home."
Coimbra says the Chippewas' fans can have a direct impact on the team's success.
"Come to games. We know we need to make people excited, but they make us excited for the game. They are like the sixth player for us," he said.
Coimbra and the Chippewas open Mid-American Conference Tournament action at Buffalo Tuesday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.