|Hoops star from Iceland finds warm reception at Centre
RELEASED: Feb. 10, 2005
DANVILLE, KYThousands of miles from home3,116 miles to be exact, Hreggvidur "Reggie" Maggnusson is living his dream. From his hometown of Reykjavik, Iceland, Maggnusson has traveled to Danville to play basketball for Centre College, and more importantly, receive a quality education.
"All European kids dream of playing basketball in the states," says the junior financial economics major. As he's gotten older, Maggnusson says education has become extremely important to him.
Maggnusson found out about Centre from an American basketball coach who ran a basketball camp in Iceland. The American coach played high school basketball with Greg Mason, Centre's men's basketball coach.
"He [the American coach] got me acquainted with Centre, but once I saw what Centre was all about and its academic merits, I didn't need a lot of convincing," Maggnusson says.
Moving to Kentucky was a dramatic change for the 6'7" center, but the experience has proved to be a positive one.
"I enjoy the people here. Everyone is courteous and smiling, which is common in the south [United States] but not as common in Europe," he says. "I absolutely love everything at Centre. The college is academically highly regarded and all students work hard and excel."
Maggnusson says he enjoys how the college conveys values such as punctuality and the liberal arts aspect of the curriculum.
"When I came here I was focused on business and only interested in taking those classes, but at Centre you also study humanities, philosophy and religion," Maggnusson says. "I'm extremely thankful to have learned all of the things I've learned and am learning."
One of the most significant changes Maggnusson has experienced has been the support of and emphasis on athletics in the U.S. With a population of only 300,000 in his home country, "you were lucky to have a coach and assistant coach," he says
"There's much more put into it here," he says. "We have more equipment, trainers and fans. There's much more support for sports. At my first practice last year we had 18 guys and all 18 from the first minute gave 100 percent effort. In the competitive situation you have a better chance of advancing. You fight more for minutes and position. This atmosphere made me want to play harder."
Maggnusson credits his drive and passion on the court and classroom to his father's encouragement.
"My father told me you have to compete with yourself," Maggnusson says. "He said, 'Always try to be better today than you were yesterday and better tomorrow than you were today.' It drives me to be a better basketball player, student and friend."
While Maggnusson misses his family every day, his Centre family has made him feel welcome and at home.
Teammate junior Coy Zerhusen from Georgetown, Ky., considers the team fortunate to have Maggnusson.
"Reggie has been a huge part of the team's success the past two years," Zerhusen says. "On the court alone he's proved himself as one of the best post players in the conference. As one of the captains of this year's team his leadership has been felt in practices and games. He even tries to impart some of his European culture to us, but I can't pull off the suits he wears or his overall sense of style. I'm trying to learn to speak Icelandic, but it's been rough going so far. He usually just laughs at us when we try to say his name. Reggie has been an excellent teammate on and off the court. We were lucky the man from Iceland ended up in Danville."
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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