Ben Mrowka is a Castleton junior and one of the stars of the men’s basketball team. He’s also from Australia and serves as a Community Advisor on campus. He sat down to chat about his life a world away from home.
Q: How long have you played basketball?
A: I’ve been playing for 12 years. I started off in a small elementary league in Australia. I’ve been at it a long time.
Q: What are your goals, individually and as a team?
A: Individually, I think I can be one of the top shooters in the country if not the conference. As captain, one of my goals is that the team runs smoothly with little things. As a team, I’d like to get better every day and win the conference.
Q: How do you train in the offseason to prepare for the season?
A: Personally, I do a lot of weights at gyms back home and get my body right. Every 2-3 days I get a basketball in my hands, shooting and dribbling just trying to keep contact with the ball.
Q: How did you hear about Castleton and find your way to Vermont?
A: I went through a recruiting agency. I sent some video out to their contacts and from there I had 50 or 60 schools that were interested. Then it came down to academics, location, and cost. Once I dwindled it down, I really liked coach Culpo and the admissions office became a huge factor. They were the most interactive and friendly. My high school was 600 kids from year 1 to 12 and Castleton fit that small-school atmosphere.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about America?
A: There’s a lot. The people here are very friendly and the supersize food, as well as the focus on sport is a lot bigger here than back home.
Q: Any food you miss from home?
A: Obviously I miss my mom’s home-cooked meals, but for the most part we have many of the same foods. Pavlova is something that I could use from time to time. It’s like a foamy, crumbly type of cheesecake, I guess you need to see a photo to understand.
Q: Was the adjustment from Australia to Castleton and America tough?
A: I think it was mostly in my head because when I got here I didn’t know anyone except my coach and the captain of the basketball team. I thought it was going to be tougher than it really was. I just continued to make more and more friends and now I know almost everyone on campus.
Q: Do you have any advice for any new international students that would help their transition?
A: I would say just do things you wouldn’t normally do. If you’re a shy person, try and go interact with students that will take you out of that shy state. It’s really beneficial coming to a
new country and make those new connections. Don’t try to seclude yourself. Sit next to a stranger, it may be awkward but that’s how friendships start.
Q: Where do you plan on residing after college?
A: I am going to be heading home. That’s the plan, to go home and get a job or maybe pursue a professional basketball career.
Q: Favorite TV show?
A: Seinfeld hands down.
Q: What’s your favorite music?
A: Music is pretty similar here and back home. I like everything, but I’ve definitely gotten into country here in America. But other than heavy metal, anything that is on is fine with me.
Q: Any advice for aspiring young basketball players?
A: The main thing is to keep working hard and believing in yourself is probably the biggest thing I can say. From personal experience, have self-belief that you’re capable. It’s not being cocky, it just helps you perform. Keep working hard. I know kids give up when they perform bad or don’t make a team. Just remember, there is always someone out there working harder than you, let that motivate you.