Volleyball's Evangelista digs her new homeBy Terrin Waack | 11/12/2015 9:41am
Bruna Evangelista traveled from Caete, Brazil to play volleyball for Alabama. UA Athletics
Just over three years ago, Bruna Evangelista was living in Caete, Brazil, with her family.
She was presented with the opportunity to play volleyball in the U.S., but at the time, Evangelista was unsure whether or not she was going to follow through with it.
“First of all, my parents didn’t even want me to come because it was a crazy idea,” she said.
She agreed with them at first. Evangelista didn’t know anybody in the U.S, and she didn’t speak a lick of English.
Now, despite her and her parents’ initial doubts, Evangelista finds herself in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, playing for the Crimson Tide’s volleyball team. She recognized that she was being offered an opportunity that doesn’t come along for just anybody. The 6’1” senior is on her second season here at Alabama as a middle blocker.
Before coming to Alabama, Evangelista played at Blinn College in Blinn, Texas. With already two years of experience under her belt, Evangelista came into the Alabama volleyball program with sophomore Leah Lawrence’s class, who was more than excited to meet an international player.
It wasn’t always a smooth ride, though.
“She’s had to endure quite a bit,” coach Ed Allen said. “We’ve had to go through an ACL injury and had to fight to get back into a position that would allow her to be able to play. She’s worked hard to make that happen and for that we’re better.”
In the Crimson Tide’s most recent match against South
Carolina this past Sunday, where it won 3-1, Evangelista had nine kills, hitting 0.300.
“Without her working hard, who knows if we’d have won this match,” Allen said.
Her positivity and fight to play is something that Allen and the rest of the team notice regularly. Lawrence said Evangelista is a stable form of competitive energy. The team can always count on her to work her hardest while staying competitive and being there for her team.
The culture she brings to the team is enjoyed as well.
“We all kind of tease her about her accent because we all think it’s adorable,” Lawrence said. “She frequently makes up words, and it’s pretty funny.”
Evangelista came to the U.S. without any prior English knowledge. When she got to Blinn College, she was thrown into a bunch of American classes, such as history and government. She’s not sure how, but she pulled off all A’s in those classes.
Before her first season at Blinn College wrapped up, Evangelista learned how to speak and understand English.
“Before I was just like a kid pointing at stuff,” she said.
Over the past few years, Evangelista has come to love the U.S. She’s like a sponge, absorbing everything and anything new around her.
When the team travels to different states for matches, she loves it.
“The girls are so used to it but quietly, I’d be like, ‘It’s so pretty’ and take a picture,” she said.
No matter how discreet Evangelista tries to be, her teammates notice. They know Evangelista wants to learn all that she can in the short amount of time they are in different states.
“It’s always great to help her experience our culture,” Lawrence said.
If there’s one thing Evangelista has fully embraced, it’s the food here.
Lawrence said her teammate absolutely loves ranch, which she puts on everything, and Oreos. It’s interesting to Lawrence to see what Evangelista ends up taking a liking towards, since it’s normally things Americans eat regularly without any thought.
It’s not just ranch and Oreos she’s fallen for. Before ranch, Evangelista also had a thing for putting ketchup on everything for a while. Then with Oreos, she’s convinced she was addicted to them at one point because she found herself eating them all the time.
“It’s like phases of American things I go through,” Evangelista said.
Her current obsession is Nutella.
With this being her final season and year at Alabama, Evangelista has a big decision coming up: to stay in the U.S. or to go back to Brazil.
“It doesn’t hit me yet that this is the last one,” she said.
She’ll graduate in May with a degree in consumer science. After that, lately she’s been thinking she’s going to stay in the U.S. She thinks it’s what’s best for her future in the long run.
“I also spent four years of my life here, far from my family and doing all these things, that I feel like I did not do all this to go back home, don’t speak English and get a job there,” she said. “I feel like I have to use all the experience I got here and I have to use it here.”
Evangelista does plan to visit back home after graduating no matter what. She misses her family.
Whether she’s there or not, she also hopes that one day her team can all visit Brazil to see where she’s from and why she is who she is. She learned so much about her teammates’ culture here that she wants them to do the same with her home country.
Lawrence is already on board and all for visiting Brazil, especially if it means more time with teammate.
“I love Bruna to death,” she said. “We’ve had some fun moments together on and off the court.”