Croatian basketball player fulfills dream to come to America
By Jaycob Ammerman | firstname.lastname@example.org
Born in Zadar, Croatia, Ante Gospic’s dream was to get a college education in America.
“I remember watching American college movies and I wanted to be just like the actors,” said the 21-year-old Flagler junior, who will suit up for the men’s basketball team this fall.
Gospic knew that his only chance of coming to America for college was through the game of basketball.
“I knew that if I was really good at basketball, then American colleges would recruit me,” he said.
As a teenager, Gospic hit a growth spurt where he grew seven inches over a five month span. Coaches and recruiters in Croatia quickly noticed that the 6’8” Gospic was playing at a professional level.
On his 18th birthday, he was approached by a Croatian professional team to sign a contract to play basketball.
“I declined and made many people mad, but I wanted to fulfill my dream in America,” he said.
He fulfilled that dream in 2008 after his parents gave him permission to come to America to play high school basketball for Zion Lutheran high school in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. It was an exciting opportunity, but one that he knew would be a struggle without his family.
“The first two weeks in America were rough,” he said. “I still had my bags packed ready to go back home. I missed my family and Croatia so much, but I decided to put all my time into my education and basketball.”
Gospic quickly became a star on the basketball court, and his heroics won him a scholarship to play with Polk State College, a Div. I Junior College in Winter Haven, Fla.
“I got signed to play college basketball for Polk State, and I was very happy because I could stay in Florida,” he said.
After an impressive freshmen season at Polk State, Gospic knew that he needed to have a breakout season his sophomore year. He started every game and helped lead his team to the 2011 Suncoast Conference Championship, bring attention from NCAA Div. I colleges.
“I had offers to play for several Div. I schools, but I knew if I signed to play then I would not be able to go back to Croatia for the summer because of the strict off-season workouts,” he said, adding that he wanted to find a college that would allow him to be in Croatia over the summer. That school turned out to be Flagler, and in May of 2011 he signed his National Letter of Intent to play for the Saints.
“I was very excited that I have the opportunity to play for Flagler, and that I will be able to see my family during summer,” he said. “I cannot wait for a great year.”
Saints Head Coach Bo Clark is thrilled to have Gospic’s experience on the team.
“I am really excited to coach Ante, he has such a teachable spirit about him,” he said. “With his two years experience at Polk State, he will help bring some extra leadership to the team.”
But Clark said Gospic brings more than just experience and leadership skills. “Ante brings a lot of the athletic talent on the basketball court; he could be one of the best rebounders on the team this season. After his career at Flagler, he will have a good chance of playing professional basketball overseas in Europe.”