By Daniel Curren
For Wasatch Academy seniors Manuel Coronado and Matus Hronsky, the opportunity to advance in their careers is just one of their concerns – alongside assimilation into American culture – as international high school basketball players.
Coronado came to America in August of 2020 for his junior year of high school after spending the previous two years in the Dominican Republic.
Coronado and Hronsky are two of the seven players on Wasatch’s roster from foreign countries, with others coming from Canada, China, Taiwan and Africa. Although the pair ended up at the same school, they experienced a very different recruiting process from one another.
“I had other schools recruiting me, they were just not as highly ranked,” Coronado said. “It really came down to Wasatch due to the competition and who they play.”
“I didn’t have that many options,” Hronsky said. “I chose Wasatch because I was in Czech Republic working out when the last head coach [David Evans] came to my practice and told me about Wasatch. When I came to visit, I saw how they worked, how everything is there.”
Hronsky had to leave his family behind when he left Slovakia at age 16. Along with learning the ins-and-outs of his new basketball team, having to be independent at that age became a tall task.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Hronsky said. “It was the hardest thing to adjust to the new culture, new people, new environment, everything. Without my family, I had to do everything myself.”
Coming from places like the Dominican Republic and Slovakia, the pair also had to adjust to a different style of basketball in America.
“There were a lot of things I had to learn when I came to Wasatch. Screens, plays — we have like 80 plays.”
This was not the norm for Coronado in the Dominican Republic, who had to learn American basketball fundamentals along with the rigors of playing for a top team in the nation.
“Coming from the Dominican Republic, we don’t really play with plays. We just play basketball, that’s our only way out,” he said.
Through all of the adjustments that had to be made, Coronado and Hronsky have begun to assimilate themselves into the American culture in their first two years living in Utah. Although life has been different compared to life in their home countries, going to school and making friends in America has had its perks.
“I’ve gotten more hip – that’s what people say here – to music. I listen to a lot more rap now,” Coronado said.
“The music for me too. I started listening to more music. When I got to the US, I started eating more fast food,” Hronsky laughed.
Coronado and Hronsky moved to America to start a new life in pursuit of basketball. Having been provided the opportunity from Wasatch Academy in Utah, the two set goals for themselves that they’ve been working on every day.
“My goal is to be a D-I basketball player. I still haven’t gotten an official offer; I’m still working to it,” Coronado said.
Hronsky is in the same situation with the same goals in mind.
“My goal is basically to finish high school with good grades, play a lot of minutes as a senior, and get some D-1 opportunities,” he said.
Coronado has only been playing in America for two seasons now, and the lack of exposure before coming to Wasatch was part of his struggle to get offers. Now, he hopes his decision will sprout new opportunities to continue playing the sport he loves.
Photo: Joe Arruda/The Student