It’s a special week for Souleymane Wane, who played for UConn from 1997 to 2001. Wane, who teaches French and world culture at Haverhill High in Massachusetts and is a part-time assistant at UMass-Lowell, will get the chance to coach against his alma mater on Sunday at the XL Center.
“It is very special,” Wane said. “I never dreamed I’d get the chance to come back to UConn and to coach against my former school.”
But more than that – Wane, 36, will be sworn in as a U.S. citizen on Friday on ceremonies in Lowell, Mass. Wane is an amazing man. He barely spoke English when he first came to the U.S. from Senegal, and UConn he was academically ineligible for his first semester because of the language barrier. Kevin Freeman fondly remembers Wane learning the language from a rap CD.
“We would give him a hard time,” Freeman said, “but the more he learned, he started giving it right back to us. He was quiet, but he was driven. And he is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”
Wane went on to graduate on time and has now mastered five languages. After his day at the high school is done, he rushes over to UMass-Lowell to coach for a very small stipend. He has fallen in love with coaching and hopes to make a career of it.
“We are so blessed to have him,” UMass-Lowell coach Greg Herenda says. “He is such a great role model for our kids.”
I’m planning a story on Souleymane Wane for the Sunday Courant, in advance of the Huskies exhibition game vs. UMass-Lowell.