When you watch Orlando Coleman, JKSE’s American import play, you have no doubt that the 26-year-old young man was born to do exactly what he does. At 6’5 (196 cm) and 95 kg (209 lbs) he is like a mountain that no one can cross, not even the opposing team’s most skilled defender. With effortless ease, he will shut down any attempt to restrain him. He is an incredible athlete and a true entertainer, who gives the fans their money’s worth. I watched him game after game perfecting his showmanship not only with his highlight dunks that leave him hanging on the rim, punctuating his great talent, but the way he adores the fans. The man is having the time of his life each time he steps on the court and he makes all his teammates step up their game. He is a great passer with a deep range and a “do it all’ attitude and JKSE made one of their greatest investments when they brought Coleman to Hungary from New Zealand’s Southland Sharks. Over the weekend he posted a staggering 24 points against DEAC, Debrecen’s elite team making JKSE the 3rd best team in the country. I sat down with Coleman after the game to find out what is behind this young man’s greatness.
Take me back to the moment when you realized that you will devote your life to the game.
Coleman: I was in the 8th grade and I did not make the basketball team tryouts. I went home, cried like a baby and told myself that it will never happen again. Hard work and dedication has gotten me to where I am today.
How was your upbringing? How did your parents feel about your decision to be a professional athlete?
Coleman: The way I was brought up made me who I am today. My parents always supported me in anything that I wanted to do. They knew if I invested the time into it, I would succeed.
What were the challenges when you first started out?
Coleman: There were many challenges and I still meet different challenges today. Overcoming obstacles and being challenged is what makes you into you person/player you are supposed to become. I love to embrace every challenge and get better. Trust the process, there’s beauty in the struggle.
Did you have a mentor who was instrumental in who you have become today?
Coleman: There were a few people that were mentors to me or helped me. Scott Golden and Lewis Preston to name a couple. Scott was my mentor, I met him playing in his junior college basketball showcases in US. Lewis Preston was my college coach for a year at Kennesaw State. We still are in contact, he’s always supported and believed in me.
If you could meet and sit down for dinner with anyone who would it be?
Coleman: That is a tough question. I honestly don’t know who. If I could choose anyone, it probably would be my sister Marche’ who passed away in 2004. But, I would love to meet Barack Obama and Kobe Bryant one day though.
What inspires you?
Coleman: Knowing where I came from and seeing the things my loved ones had to go through and are still going through to this day. And just being the best player/person that I can honestly be.
What is your preparation process (mental/ physical) for each game?
Coleman: I usually just relax on game-days. I always eat a pre-game meal, shower and take a nap before heading to the gym for game. Then you will mostly see me listening to music in my zone, stretching and warming up for game.
What helps you maintain your focus during each game?
Coleman: I pray before every game. God has always been my # 1 source for anything. Then it’s just about going out on the court and doing what is expected of you. Most importantly having fun.
What is your fuel? What is your diet like before a major game?
Coleman: Your health should be your main focus always. It’s about eating right and hydrating enough. I typically eat chicken and rice on game-day or some kind of pasta.
You have travelled the world from Mexico, to Serbia, to New Zealand, now in Hungary, you must miss your family. How do you deal with being homesick?
Coleman: There are definitely pros and cons to playing basketball out of the country. Being away from home IS one thing that you have to sacrifice, but if you know your “Why?” then it’s easier being away.
How do you give back to your community at home?
Coleman: When I am home I have basketball camps for kids. But, I like to give back by being an example for anyone who has dreams and inspire to do what they love, even if they are faced with many obstacles or harder roads than others.
What advice would you give to a young baller who is just starting out?
Coleman: Never give up, continue to work hard and take advantage of your opportunities. Don’t listen to people who talked down on you and your dreams. Stay around positive people that support you and want to see you succeed.
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