October 22, 2010

Senior Nate Mensah Comes Far in Four Years

By Carolyn Linck, '11

As many seniors at Santa Clara University can attest to, it's amazing how far a person can come in his or her four years on the Mission Campus.  Just ask men's basketball senior Nate Mensah who walked onto the team as a freshman in 2007.  Over the past four years at SCU, Mensah has grown and developed with the program, seeing the team, coaching staff and himself take great strides.

"Things were so different freshman year," said Mensah.  "Everyone was new – the coaches, the players.  It took a lot of getting used to, and we weren't really sure how to do things, what was expected of us.  Now that the majority of the team has been together for two or three years we all know one another and know what the coaches want from us.  We've formed relationships – the players and the coaches – that have helped all of us improve."

Aside from the development of the program in his time at Santa Clara, Mensah has also seen his role on the team change tremendously in four years.

"As a freshman I was a scared kid who had just joined the team.  I tried to listen, pay attention and do whatever I was told.  Now I'm not afraid to be vocal in practice. I know what the team needs from me, and I don't have to be told anymore."

Indeed, as one of four seniors on the team this season including Ben Dowdell, Troy Payne and Michael Santos, Mensah has assumed a larger leadership position.

"My role as a leader has definitely grown this year.  The older guys have to set the right example for the younger guys to follow on and off the court."

In particular, Mensah watches out for some of the younger walk-ons, helping them find their place on the team.

"Since I've been in the program for three years I have a lot of experience and know what the coaches want," said Mensah.  "I know what the coaches are looking for and I try to point these things out to the younger guys, maybe explaining something in a different way to help them understand it better.  This is definitely an important way I contribute."

Indeed, Mensah feels his biggest contributions come in practice when he works to make everyone on the team better.

"In practice I talk a lot," explained Mensah. "I have a good understanding of how our system works so I try to communicate that to the guys and help them improve and play better every day."

Though Mensah has found his niche on the team, he admits it hasn't always been easy.

"There have been some really challenging times over the past four years, but basketball was never something I was ready to give up. Knowing that this will be my last year playing is something I'm struggling to grasp right now."

Sports, however, are something Mensah hopes to carry into his future after he graduates from Santa Clara this June.

"I'm planning on going to law school with ultimate goal of becoming a sports agent," said Mensah.  "The two things I value the most in sports are the competitive environment and the camaraderie with teammates.  Being a member of the basketball team here has given me a great group of guys I know I can rely on now and for years to come.  So even though I won't be playing anymore after this year, having a career where I'm still involved in athletics and can keep those aspects of it in my life would be really great."

Mensah and the rest of the Broncos will host a red and white scrimmage Saturday, October 23, in the Leavey Center at 1 p.m.  The Broncos will open the season on Friday, November 5, in an exhibition game against CSU Maritime in the Leavey Center.