De Coteau comes to Kansas from Grenada

Brenda Snyder

For almost two years, Moriba De Coteau taught mathematics in a nearby village at the Happy Hill Secondary School, 30 minutes from Mt. Hartman, Grenada, where he lived.

De Coteau’s employment began as a temporary job but later was offered a full-time position. He was content with his new job at Happy Hill, a school with a student body of 700 with an average class size 40, it seemed to be just what he had been looking for. Little did he know this teaching career would end as quickly as it began.

It all started in mid-September when the 6-foot-9 De Coteau received a phone call from Ewan Auguste, Washburn’s assistant men’s basketball coach, with an offer to attend Washburn. It was a full-ride scholarship, an opportunity De Coteau could not refuse. He accepted, and in less than three weeks was on Kansas soil.

Auguste first heard about De Coteau from a contact down on the island who knew him. This friend suggested Auguste give De Coteau a call.

“I was looking for a big kid. I never met this ‘island kid,’ but took my chances and sight unseen, recruited him,” said Auguste.

De Coteau, 21, was born in Trinidad and moved to Grenada shortly after his birth. He is the oldest of three children; with two younger sisters, 17 and 15. De Coteau’s parents and sisters live in Mt. Hartman, a small village with a population of 80.

Growing up in the village, it seemed to have everything a young boy could want, an abundance of warm sunshine, sandy beaches, swimming and endless tourist attractions in nearby towns.

De Coteau and his friends enjoyed their time together. They occupied themselves with sports. The main sport they played was winball cricket, a version of regular cricket, except they preferred to use a tennis ball rather than the original leather ball. They had discovered the tennis ball did not hurt nearly as bad as the leather ball when they would get hit.

Another sport they enjoyed was basketball, but it required more effort to play since the court was some distance across town. That required more time than De Coteau wanted to invest, especially since it would interfere with school work and house chores.

When he was 16, he began to play in games organized by his church and community. At the age of 19, De Coteau played in the Caribbean 19 and Under Tournament, and his team placed second.

The past five years he has been slowly developing his game, taking advantage of his height to play a more competitive game.

Inspired by his father, a 6’4″ center, who played professional basketball for the country of Grenada in the 70s, De Coteau said he always dreamed he would come to America and play basketball.

De Coteau’s parents had the same desire. They wanted their son to receive a good education in America, and were prepared to obtain a loan to pay for it.

De Coteau had mailed transcripts to a couple colleges located in the northeastern part of the U.S., where relatives lived nearby. He had not heard from any of the schools when the call came from Washburn.

“Everything happened so fast. I sent Washburn my transcripts, applied for admissions, got my student visa, packed up and flew to Kansas,” said De Coteau.

De Coteau, a freshman majoring in mathematics, is working overtime trying to adjust to life at Washburn.

He said the basketball training at Washburn is intensive. He’s trying to adapt to the game while catching up with his studies. De Coteau is determined to succeed. He believes by his junior year he will really shine.

“I knew training would be hard, but I never thought it would be this hard,” said De Coteau.

Auguste said De Coteau and is going full speed with no time off and seems to be adjusting okay.

“His rebounds are good; he can go up and down the court. He can do any type of dunk,” said Auguste.

He sees a lot of potential in his newly recruited center.

“He’s a great kid that wants to learn the game,” said Auguste.