Transfer caps strong debut with help from friends

Women's basketball starter Marita Davydova, right, lounges with sand volleyball player Maryna Samoday during one of Samoday's matches. The two have created a friendship that helped Davydova ease into life in Miami.

Ruben Palacios/Staff Writer

The women’s basketball team enjoyed their fair share of success away from home this past season, winning eight out of a possible 12 games in unfamiliar territory. Junior Marita Davydova enjoyed tremendous success away from home also, though, for her, it was on a vastly bigger scale.

Davydova, a first-year transfer from Russia, dominated the hardwood during her first year at FIU. At 6-foot-3, Davydova enforced her presence in the paint against opponents all year round and her numbers did the talking for her. She

Women's basketball starter Marita Davydova, right, lounges with sand volleyball player Maryna Samoday during one of Samoday's matches. The two have created a friendship that helped Davydova ease into life in Miami.

Women’s basketball starter Marita Davydova, right, lounges with sand volleyball player Maryna Samoday during one of Samoday’s matches. The two have created a friendship that helped Davydova ease into life in Miami.

was second on the team in scoring at 9.8 points per game while dominating on the boards and leading the team in rebounding at 8.8 rebounds per game.

For Davydova, success came quickly, but so did the season in which she showed so much growth. The season, which spans from November all the way into March, felt as if it flew by.

“Everything moves so quickly because we don’t have time to think about anything else. Every day I have classes, homework, practices and games,” Davydova said. “But I like it here, it was a challenge for me and a new experiment, but it was good.”

When she first arrived in Miami, she had many uncertainties running through her mind. Communicating with teammates, learning a foreign language and having to study in a foreign language were all fears she had to experience and eventually overcome.

“I think people can get used to any situation. I began to speak English every day and it became easier,” Davydova said. “Of course, I have problems and not everyone can understand my accent, but everyone likes it.”

Davydova, after just a short stint in Miami, has already confessed her love for the life she has in the warm oasis she now calls home.

“I don’t know how I will feel next year. Maybe it is because it is my first year and it is all new and unusual. It’s a new country, new city and new people. But right now I like it,” Davydova said. “I already told my teammates that I wish I could stay here longer. I can only play two years, but I wish I could play here for four years.”

In a time where she was especially vulnerable, Davydova made a special connection with another FIU athlete, sand volleyball star junior Maryna Samoday. They met in a time where Davydova most needed someone to befriend and confide in.

It was within her first couple of weeks in Miami when she and some of her basketball teammates went to support the volleyball team. While at the game, Davydova curiously began to wonder where the international players on the team were from and saw that Samoday was an international player from the Ukraine. Samoday was also in a position of need, at the time she was sitting out with an elbow injury. The two later found themselves sitting side by side in a computer lab and an awkward first exchange would eventually lead to an amazing friendship.

“We are not only friends, we are best friends.” Davydova said. “For me it is important to find such a person who can really understand me, who can help me in any situation and we are very similar. Thank god that she is here because she helps me a lot.”

Davydova and Samoday continue to build on their friendship by dipping into the expertise of one another in order to be supportive. Samoday learned her share of basketball rules so when she goes to support her friend she can argue calls in her favor. Davydova returns the favor by learning the game of sand volleyball and making an effort to be at every match.

Davydova is spending so much time in the sand around the volleyball team that she has befriended another international player on the team in junior Ksenia Sukhareva, who is from her native Russia. The bonds that she is creating within her friendships are a vital piece of what keeps her going while still dealing with acquainting herself into a new place.

“We have a Russian mafia here,” Davydova says describing her friendship with Sukhareva.

Davydova has certainly embraced her new role as a basketball player, her new lifestyle and her new city. But what she will not embrace as a norm of Miamians is their tendency to always show up late to anything and everything. Tardiness is also something she will not tolerate from Samoday.

“She is always there, but you know what? She is always late. And I tell her, ‘Today you came four minutes and 24 seconds late,’” Davydova said. “For me it is very important and I try not to plan anything when they have games.”

Davydova took women’s basketball at FIU by storm this past year. Expectations for her senior year are going to be set awfully high by her peers and by herself, but for Davydova, next year can wait.

“I enjoy every day. I don’t think about the past because that is already done, so I try and live in the now and in the present,” Davydova said.

About the Author

Ruben Palacios
is the Assistant News Director of FIU student media, a sports junkie and a sneaker enthusiast. Not necessarily in that order. Loves the L.A. Lakers and Oakland Raiders. In that order.