Already recruited twice in her lifetime for basketball, psychology major Mide Oriyomi, a world traveler most recently hailing from Ontario, set her sights on Northeastern to continue her basketball career.
When Oriyomi first moved from London, England to Ontario, she picked up figure skating and track. Although she enjoyed those sports, she slowly began to realize they weren’t the sports for her. Thus began her journey to the sport she now loves: basketball.
Oriyomi’s first recruitment for basketball happened very early on in her life. Her elementary school principal saw her best friend and her running track and said that he needed players for the U-9 basketball team, which was comprised of players ages 9 and under.
“It was hard for me to say goodbye to track, but it’ll always hold a place in my heart,” Oriyomi said.
Her next recruitment came from Northeastern and its coaching staff, although she experienced a different recruitment process than her fellow rookies of the basketball team. NU men's basketball coach Bill Coen, who knew Oriyomi's high school coach, spoke to Kelly Cole, NU women’s basketball head coach, about her play. Oriyomi committed late into her senior year, later than when most Division I athletes make their decision, but now she can’t imagine having gone anywhere else.
“[Northeastern is] a prestigious school,” Oriyomi said. “When I came here, I loved the girls. I wanted a balanced university experience, and I thought NU was extremely balanced and it matched my well-rounded personality.”
Being one of three abroad players from the rookie class, Oriyomi definitely misses her home and family, especially her mom, who is her role model.
“Growing up I would have said I have no role model, but she was my silent role model. Unknowingly, I was modeling myself after her,” Oriyomi said. “I was actually on the phone with her, and I was telling her that with every year passing I just become more and more like her.”
Although it is hard being away from home, Oriyomi loves the life she has created here in Boston and her newfound sense of freedom. She is excited for whatever the future has in store for her as a Husky.
Oriyomi’s first season as a Husky was a strong one, earning CAA Rookie of the Week (Jan. 13) and leading the rookie class in scoring (5.2) and minutes per game (15.9).
“I obviously still have a lot of learning and growing to do, but I think I’m going to get to where I want to eventually be,” she said.
Within a month of her first season as a Husky, Maryland native Mossi Staples nabbed the first CAA Rookie of the Week for the rookie Husky class, starting her collegiate career on a high note.
Getting special accolades was nothing new to Staples. She was named the No. 1 defender in Maryland high school basketball during her junior season, while also being named a two-time team MVP.
Growing up in Maryland, she was introduced to basketball by watching her brother’s practices. She picked up a loose ball and just started playing around with it. Initially, her mom didn’t want her to play basketball and preferred she do gymnastics and cheerleading instead.
“My brother was actually the one who convinced her to let me try it out for a year, and then the rest was history,” said Staples about the inception of her basketball career.
For her, being away from home was the toughest part of transitioning to college. The collegiate basketball schedule was a rough change because it had fewer breaks than Northeastern’s general undergraduate schedule.
“There were times where my roommate wouldn’t be here because of vacation, and I’d be here not doing classes but going to practice," she said. "And it was during those moments that I truly missed home the most."
Lucky for her, many of NU’s opponents reside in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area, allowing her family to watch her games. Her mom, whom Staples called her role model, even came to every home game to bridge the gap of not being able to go home.
Another challenge for her was from being the captain and leader of her high school team to coming to college where she’s back at the bottom. She had to learn how to adapt to this new dynamic.
“I really had to listen to the rules and shape myself to the team’s goals and values because it is a team sport at the end of the day,” Staples said. “I had to find my place and play my role.”
Last season, the typical game day for her consists of a shootaround before the game, followed by her grabbing something to eat from Rebecca’s Cafe. After that, she’d head back to the gym to shoot a bit more and have her pre-game meal with the team. She’d then take a power nap and get to the gym about two hours before the game to do her pre-game rituals, which include 10 minutes of ball-handling before heading to the locker room for exactly seven minutes to listen to “Rain On Us,” a gospel song by Earnest Pugh.
Her recruitment process was much different than how recruitment typically goes. At one of the last tournaments of her Amateur Athletic Union career, Northeastern presented themselves as a top choice for her.
“Northeastern just had better opportunities and the level of education it provided was unmatchable,” Staples said. “I loved the team, and I loved the coaches straight away as well.”
For Century McCartney, picking up a basketball was one of the best decisions she ever made. Her family, especially her cousin and father, sparked her passion for basketball, and their encouragement made it her number one sport.
She said that basketball taught her how to hold herself accountable.
“The coaches can only tell you to do so much,” McCartney said.“You have to be more of a leader and talking a lot more on the bench or in the game.”
For her, a typical practice day started with a 6 a.m. lift followed up with “Rebreakfast” – a breakfast from Rebecca’s – followed by class. After class, she went to practice and treatment, where her coach would play videos of the practices and games in order to suggest any improvements. Following her last class of the day, she would go to study hall, which she was required to attend as a freshman student-athlete.
Her accountability also translated into her academics at Northeastern.
“As a freshman [student-athlete], every week you have to spend at least 10 hours in study hall," McCartney said. "It’s a great way to make yourself accountable for everything you do on and off the court.”
Although she finished high school in Waterbury, Connecticut, McCartney grew up in the Bronx so city life is normal to her. In fact, she hopes to move to another city in 10 years: Atlanta, where she hopes to become a police officer after completing her criminology degree at Northeastern.
As a criminology major, McCartney is deeply interested in crime and its related fields. If she could theoretically turn invisible, she’d want to go into a penal institution and see the reality of what it’s like to be in jail.
“I like researching cases, and serial killer documentaries are some of my favorite things to watch,” she said. “In fact, one of my favorite shows is ‘Law and Order: Special Victims Unit’ — I’ve seen every episode.”
Although she’s not too far from home, the one person she misses the most is her sister whom she FaceTimes almost every day.
“She’s my best friend for sure, and I love going home to go see her,” McCartney said about her sister.
For McCartney, the adjustment to college was difficult.
“It’s different than doing eight classes a day," McCartney said. "My day is never over when my friends are over. We have to have mandatory study hall hours and practices between classes, whereas in high school you’d have class then practice and then get to go home and do what needs to be done for the next day."
However, her teammates have helped her settle into her college life. The bond that she created with her team was instantaneous.
“Aya [Dublin] and Alexis [Hill] have really taken me under their wings because we are all post players; it’s easier to get tips and feedback from them. Shannon [Todd] has also been a role model for me on the team.”
Growing up a city kid, being in Boston is the perfect combination of both Waterbury and the Bronx and provides a sense of balance for her. Walking around the city gives her a sense of freedom, but putting on the Northeastern jersey and playing the game she loves so much makes it her new home.
Coming from more than 4,000 miles across the world, Anna Boruta decided to further her education and basketball career at Northeastern.
Boruta is a native of Vienna, Austria, and growing up, was always one of the most athletic individuals in her grade. In sixth grade, her two best friends played basketball and encouraged her to join.
“I was a runner. I always loved the feeling of running because it felt like I could fly,” Boruta said. “And basketball was a good combination of athleticism and that flying-while-running feeling.”
Initially, Boruta’s mother didn’t want her to join any club sports, as she herself was a track and field athlete and thought it would get in the way of her studies. Ultimately, Boruta convinced her mom to let her join a club team because it holds more weight during the recruitment process.
“I had to make a deal with her that I wouldn’t get any grade worse than a C to keep playing club basketball,” Boruta said.
While she is from Austria, she said that she has two home countries, with the other being Poland, where her grandparents live. The two homes could not be more different — one is a hustling, bustling city much like Boston and the other doesn’t see any cars on the street for hours. When she misses her other homes in Poland or Austria, she travels the short distance to Dorchester where she frequents a Polish church and restaurant.
“Vienna is a beautiful city and is the perfect mix between old and new. I basically grew up on the street of my kindergarten and elementary schools,” Boruta said. “In Poland, there weren’t many cars at the time I was growing up, and we were able to play in the streets and just have a happy childhood growing up with a lot of great food.”
Boruta lives by a motto: “follow your dreams,” one that has served her well so far.
Boruta went all the way to represent Austria at the national level. She was a five-year member of the youth national team, playing in the U-18 FIBA Women’s European Championship and becoming a three-time Austrian champion for the U-16 and U-19 teams.
Prior to coming to Northeastern, Boruta took a gap year during which she took classes at the University of Vienna. For her, Northeastern was the perfect balance between academics and basketball. Now, as a rising sophomore, she is in pursuit of a business administration and psychology combined major, and in the future, she hopes to play professionally in France, Spain or Russia.
Though many athletes seek a route to early playing time, Boruta, who played just under 10 minutes per game her freshman season, didn’t shy away from joining an already well-built roster.
“The coaches were also very transparent with me and they were very honest in telling me what to expect as a freshman,” Boruta said.“They didn’t sugarcoat anything to recruit me, and I appreciated that very much. I had to work for my spot and that was what really intrigued me about coming to Northeastern.”
Boruta has always been one to follow and fight for her dreams and encourages others to do so as well.
“I didn’t think I’d even get to do university in the States. It’s a tough process but if you work hard for it and believe in yourself, anything is possible," she said. "Nothing is given, but when you work for it, the satisfaction is worth it.”
Once she finishes traveling the world, specifically to Greece where her favorite movie "Mamma Mia" was filmed, Sammie Martin wants to return home to Sudbury, Ontario to one day become a teacher for kids with special needs. But until then, she’ll be in Boston, a city she now calls another home.
Originally starting out as a competitive dancer up until high school, Martin gave up dance to follow in the footsteps of her dad and brother who played basketball in high school.
“My dad told me to try basketball and the rest is history,” Martin said. “Looking back on it now, I wish I never danced and had just started basketball right away, I love it.”
In basketball and in life, her role models include her parents and older brother, who has become her best friend. Although she is close to her family at heart, she has been away from them since the age of 16. Having to move for college was nothing new for her: when she was 16, she made the decision to move by herself from Sudbury to London, Ontario to continue her education and further her basketball career.
Her parents are her biggest supporters, especially her dad, who would make the five-hour drive to see her if she ever had a bad day in high school. Although she is now further away from them and in a different country, she makes up for it by talking to her family every day and utilizing FaceTime to remain close.
Martin didn’t have the typical road to playing college ball. In fact, she did a post-graduate year of high school after breaking her ankle her senior year. She committed that November.
“They [NU coaching staff] were always the most consistent, they kept in contact the most,” Martin said. “I got really good vibes [from] all the coaches I talked to. You could just tell that they genuinely cared about you and made it a focus to not just connect with me but my parents and high school coach as well. They portrayed a family dynamic and I was drawn into that.”
This past season was riddled with injuries for her, mostly concussions, yet she has enjoyed every single practice and game. Even if she spent most of the time biking on the sidelines or cheering on her teammates.
Her adjustment to college has been challenging, as she has had to work on her time management skills to make sure she got everything done. Her basketball transition was challenging for her as well.
“I didn’t have a clear picture in my head of what I was expecting college basketball to be like, but it was just very different than how it was in high school. Everything you do is for a purpose,” Martin said. “Going from being a leader of the team as a captain, where your team looks up to you as the captain, to go to a team where everyone is presented equally is different. It really is like a big-fish-small-pond to small-fish-big-pond.”
However, Martin likes the challenge of having to work to get a starting position. She appreciates the discipline that the Northeastern coaching staff instills in its players.
“Nothing is given on this team. Every day you have to fight, work, and prove to yourself, teammates and coaches that you can get it done,” she said. “Having a coaching structure like this is a great motivator to push yourself to the next level and I can’t wait to see what I do as a Husky in the future.”