Motto inspires French forward Fabrice Tafo

By Paul Timmens
Staff writer


PHOTO BY AMANDA GARCIA | UNSTOPPABLE: Fabrice Tafo going in for the layup admist defenders. Tafo averages almost nine points per game this season. His teammates say he is unstoppable when it comes to the basket.

From the stands, #42 appears to be right at home with his teammates and on the court. However, this shy forward is far from the place he calls home.

Born in Cameroon, and raised in Paris, France, Tafo has travelled since he was fifteen, visiting Africa, his birthplace, and eventually the United States.

Tafo wasn’t always the tall forward underneath the basket. His athletic experience began on the field. Fabrice played futbol as a youngster and attended a soccer school where he began to travel.

“I didn’t have that much experience with basketball, since my family pretty much played soccer,” Fabrice said. “But when I kept getting taller and taller, my friend took me to the playground and we played basketball and I started to like it.”

From field to court, Tafo made the switch when he reached high school, receiving the most improved player while at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va. Once graduated from his prep school, Tafo began looking for a new home at Georgetown, Penn State, Cleveland State, and others.

Tafo began his college career at the University of Hartford, where he received a scholarship to play for the Division-I school.

After three seasons with the Hartford Hawks, Fabrice wanted something different and a change of scenery, so he chose WT.

“I love it,” Tafo said about WT. “I love all of my teammates, I love the student people, my friends, and people I hang out with.”

As for his teammates, they say Fabrice has a lot to offer.

“He brings tremendous energy to the court,” Tory Fernandez, best friend and teammate, said. “I feel like he is unstoppable. When we need that quick bucket, we can count on Fabrice.”

Tafo has nine blocks, 77 rebounds and is 65 percent from the field this season. His 6’8” stance puts him close to the basket where he does most of his work.

“Fabrice has good moves,” Head Coach Rick Cooper said. “He’s helped us this year. What he’s attempting to do is extremely difficult for a young man to do and that’s come in and be a one year player.”

Other difficulties for Fabrice include improving his English.

“When I left Paris, I didn’t know how to speak any English, just yes, no and yes, no,” said Tafo. “So, when I got to St. Thomas, I was going to school there and I was only good in math. I worked with my dictionary and watched a lot of movies and just reading trying to get better.”

“I think sometimes there’s a translation issue, too,” said Coach Cooper. “It has held him back a little at times, but he’s gotten better and is getting better.”

Fabrice will graduate in May with a general studies degree. He plans to continue playing basketball and travelling overseas, or work for ESPN in Connecticut. He lives by the motto, “Le future appartient a ceux qui prepare ce future aujourd’hui.”

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