The Transition to College Was No Slam-Dunk

Gerardo Arangure, 18, a 1994 graduate of Roosevelt High, was a starting forward on the Roughriders' basketball team, which reached the City 3-A final for the first time in the school's history last season. The three-year starter was one of nine seniors on the 1993-94 team, which lost to Banning in the title game. None of the nine, however, are currently playing collegiate basketball. Arangure was among members of last year's team who were recently reunited for an alumni game against the current Roosevelt varsity. Arangure, now attending Cal State Long Beach, was interviewed by Kirby Lee.

I love playing basketball and I played for three years with the varsity at Roosevelt. I never thought about going as far as the NBA, but I thought after high school that I might go to a community college and play.

(Instead) I decided to go to Cal State Long Beach and try to study and settle down for a year before thinking about basketball again. My older brother, Eddie, who is 23, is going to Cal State Northridge, and my older sister, Aracely, who is 20, goes to UC Santa Barbara. Being the youngest in the family, it was time to move on. I didn't want to stay home.

I'm thinking about becoming a probation officer because I like helping people. But I'm not exactly sure what I want to do, so I've decided not to declare a major yet. I'm still young and have a ways to go.

Classes in college are a lot different than high school. They're bigger, for one thing. Instead of 10 people, there might be 50--or more. You have to pay attention every single minute or you'll find yourself behind. I went to summer bridge (a college introductory session for recent high school graduates) for about a month, so that little bit of experience helped quite a bit. But it's still an adjustment.

I live in an apartment across the street from Cal State Long Beach. It's way different than living at home. You have to learn how to cook, how to handle the bills and wake up by yourself.

It's been a great experience living away from home and just being a full-time student, but I sometimes regret not going to a community college so I could have continued playing ball. I still may transfer next year.

I miss playing every day in practice. I miss playing with my old team and wearing my number. It was a good team. A couple of the players went to community college and some went to work.

One of them, Willie Pimentel, passed away. A friend called to tell me he had been shot. When I found out, it was like losing a member of your family.

I went to a couple of Roosevelt basketball games this past season and even helped with the scoreboard during a girls tournament there. I don't see many of the guys from last year's team much anymore, so it was nice to play with them again at the alumni game and beat the varsity.

I'm 6-3 and weighed about 180 pounds in high school, and I could dunk. I'm about 200 pounds now and can still get the ball down, but I can't quite jump like I used to.

I thought I probably had a slim chance to play in college at the start of my senior season. But I sprained my ankle in the first game of the season and started out real slow. I was out a pretty long time, and I was afraid to jump because I was worried I'd come down hard on the ankle again. It was the only year in high school that I had gotten hurt, so it caught me off-guard.

I missed eight games, but it turned out real nice when we beat Gardena in the semifinals to make it to the city finals.

Before my senior year, we used to drive by the Sports Arena and wonder what it would be like to play there.

When we passed by the Sports Arena on the way back from road games, we used to point at it and joke that we would play there. When we actually made it, it was like a dream. We knew this was probably the only time we would be playing there in our lives. We hung our jerseys from the lockers and took pictures before the game.

Even though there weren't many people in the crowd, I had butterflies when I was on the court, knowing that Shaquille O'Neal and other NBA players had played there.

We lost, but I was proud to be on the first team from our school to make it to the city boys championship game. It was a great experience and something I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.

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