Spanish players make up nearly third of revamped women’s team



Four players from Spain will be among the 14 new members of the Titans women's basketball team.

The women’s season was cancelled last year amid player complaints about the coach. After every player left the team, the university fired the coach this summer – and started to rebuild.

New head coach Latanya Collins has assembled a full squad, and it includes Emma Trawally Porta, Irene Murua, Lucia Fleta Robles and Sonia Pereda.

All four Spanish students are part of the PickUs agency, but before being recruited only Pereda and Murua knew each other.

“Knowing that I was going to be on the same team with a person I already knew was a plus,” said Pereda, a freshman guard.

Trawally and Fleta did not know anyone before being agreeing to come.

“Once they told us that a couple of girls were also from the agency, we started talking through WhatsApp and keeping contact,” said Fleta.

For all of them the transition from Spain to the U.S. has been hard.

Most have had a difficult time adapting to the new culture, the new language and the new university, all of this in the midst of a pandemic.

“I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss my culture,” said Murua, a sophomore forward.

Among the biggest adjustments has been food.

“We are athletes,” said Fleta, a sophomore guard. “We need to eat healthy. But the level of nutrition here is very low.”

Because they are international students, they are living in dorms and do not have cars.

This makes it harder for them to go out to eat or to buy groceries and eat in the dorms.

“We depend on the cafeteria food,” said Fleta.

But cafeteria food is not the food they are used to at home.

“In Spain we have the Mediterranean diet, where we eat all the needed nutrients and it is delicious,” said Trawally, a freshman forward. “But here you get hamburgers, badly cooked vegetables, and it does not nourish us.”

The second biggest change has been training.

In Spain they only train for one month.

At the Division 1 program at Detroit Mercy, they have been training since August.

“It is pretty harsh compared to Spain,” said Murua. “We do a lot of gym and conditioning, and we train every day.”

Still, all of them see big opportunities at Detroit Mercy – opportunities that they could not have in Spain.

“In Spain, we are lucky if we can find a gym to train in,” said Trawally. “Here, we have a lot more opportunities and a lot more resources.”