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Maharishi's Iwobi Will Keep Playing

by John Naughton
Register Staff Writer

March 8, 2006

Sofia Iwobi arrived in Fairfield from Bulgaria like a fast break—without a background in English or basketball. Now she's proficient at both.

Iwobi, a Fairfield Maharishi guard, moved to Iowa as a 7-year-old in 1995. She quickly picked up the language and customs of her new community.

The 12th grader has signed to play at Vermont. Iwobi is one of four seniors in the state girls' basketball tournament who have signed to play Division I basketball. The others: Postville's Brittany Heins will play at Wisconsin. Charter Oak-Ute's Kala Kuhlmann signed with Nebraska. Ballard of Huxley's Alison Lacey, who moved to Iowa from Australia, will play at Iowa State.

Iwobi, whose team ended its season with a Class 1-A quarterfinal loss on Monday, will continue a journey that began as a child in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, that country's second-largest city.

Her mother, Anna, moved to Fairfield to study at Maharishi University of Management when Sofia was a toddler. Sofia was raised by her grandmother for several years while her mother studied.

Moving to Iowa at age 7 was a shock. "Everything was new," Iwobi said. "When I saw my mother, I wondered, 'Who's this woman?'

"Basketball, a new game, helped ease the transition. Iwobi attended a sixth-grade basketball camp—as a third-grader. "It really became my thing," Iwobi said.

Her school helped channel her energy and made her calmer off and on court. Iwobi practices yoga and meditates twice daily. She's quick to state that meditation is a lifestyle and a relaxation technique, not a faith. Her classmates are Hindi, Jewish and Christian. "It's just a method, it's not a religion," Iwobi said.

Heins and Kuhlmann ran the court against each other on Monday. "It's a great experience to play against that caliber of player," Heins said. "It makes it a lot more fun."

College will be Iwobi's next challenge. This week's state tournament, the school's first, has been the latest step in life. "It's a really big deal for our town," Iwobi said.

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