PCC point guard Cosette Balmy’s journey from the small French island of Martinique, to Cal Poly Pomona has been anything but typical. She has managed to navigate a new country, high school and now a global pandemic for the opportunity to play basketball the game she loves
At the age of 14, French speaking Balmy left the comfort of her family home to come to California.
“When I came, I didn’t speak any english,” Balmy said as she recalls arriving in Gardena, California to play for Serra Junipero High School. “It was really hard. I was crying a lot.”
Balmy first traveled to the United States to take part in a basketball tournament. While she was here, a couple of high school coaches asked her to play for them.
“For me that was a great opportunity,” Balmy said, “I thought, ‘This is America, I could really have a future here.’”
Balmy’s mother agreed and allowed her 14 year old daughter to travel 3,791 miles, alone, to pursue her basketball dreams.
After settling in with a host family, Balmy attended three high schools before graduating from Ribet Academy and becoming a lady Lancer. The transition from high school to college wasn’t always easy.
“It was a lot different,” Balmy said about transitioning from high school to college basketball.
“It was harder, even though you were talented, you had to follow rules and guidelines,” which was something she wasn’t used to doing on her high school team. “Listening and actually doing what I was told to do was new to me.”
In March 2020, Covid-19 hit the world and PCC with a blow that we have yet to recover from. The entire world shut down because of this global pandemic. When it became clear PCC was shutting down, Balmy decided to shelter herself back in France with her family, which she had not seen in almost 10 years.
“I went to my sister’s [and] I really enjoyed it but it was also really hard because, there, when you are quarantined, you are really quarantined.”
France’s shutdown due to Covid was more strict than ours. People were not able to leave their homes without a legitimate reason and documentation.
“If you stepped out of the house without a paper or a justification of why you are outside, the police would come and get you, you would get fined and then they take you back to your home,” Balmy said. “You had to be home.”
This forced Balmy to spend all of her time with family who had grown and changed over their 10 year separation, just as she had.
“It was just a lot of time home with my family that I didn’t know anymore so that was tough but it was also really nice to get to see everyone,” Balmy said. “They had to get to know me and I had to get to know them all over.”
Balmy returned to the U.S. six weeks ago to start her new life at Cal Poly Pomona. She now lives in the school’s student village and it’s the first time she’s had a place of her own.
Balmy has adjusted to online classes and she’s doing well academically, but she has yet to return to basketball because of continued restrictions due to Covid-19.
“I met my coach my first day back here, she brought me flowers,” Balmy said with a laugh “but we are actually not allowed to practice yet and I think I’ve only met two or three of my teammates.”
Even though Balmy has not been able to officially start training she has not let that stop her from preparing for her new role on Cal Poly Pomona’s women’s basketball team.
“One of my new teammates I see a lot,” Balmy says. “We go to the park together and she comes here, I have a court outside, and we play together and we train together as well.”
Cal Poly Pomona’s Women’s basketball is not scheduled to start practicing until January 2021, but Balmy is eagerly awaiting the start of her new season.
“When you’re at University, when you’re here, you actually want to be here and I am so excited to play with players who are as passionate as I am about Basketball,” Balmy said. “I cannot live without Basketball.”
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