Getting to know West’s Mariana Gaviria
Gaviria, 16, is a foreign exchange student from Colombia attending West. She is 6-0 in singles after winning at the McPherson tournament and a dual with Northwest.
What is something you have learned about the United States in your time here?
“The freedom. You can express yourself here. Whatever you want. I can express myself at home, but I have more rules. In Colombia, my school, we have rules and the clothes are different. Here, they use colors in their hair. They can have tattoos everywhere.… (Since I’ve been here) I have painted a little color strip in my hair, Colombian blue.”
When did you start playing tennis?
“I start playing when I was 4 years old, but then four years ago, I hurt my knees and I had to stop. Then I start playing one year ago. I was so little and I train so hard that I hurt (my knees). I played every day, four hours a day.”
You didn’t play tennis for three years because of knee pain, was that a difficult time?
“Yes. It was hard. I stopped playing for three years and one of that three years was in therapy for my knees. The other two was resting. It was hard because I didn’t find something else to do that I liked. I tried other sports, like dancing, but I didn’t like them. I came back to tennis.”
Did you expect to play tennis here?
“When I come here, I have a dream. I have a dream that my mom here was a coach. When I read the information of my year here, I saw that she (Sandy Nixon) was a coach. I was like, ‘Wow.’ Then I found another page, and she was a tennis coach. Part of me was really excited. I didn’t want to bring my racket, but when I found out that she was my tennis coach, I finally brought my tennis racket.… My dream is to have scholarship here. For when I finish (high) school, I want to start here in college.”
What is something you have learned to love here?
“Shakes! Strawberry banana. And cookies. In Colombia we don’t use too (much) peanut butter like here, so (Nixon) makes peanut butter cookies, and I like it.”