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Arizona Basketball Player Finds Father Figure In Coach After Fleeing Sudan
March 14, 2012
Angelo Chol & Ollie Goulston (l-r)
At 6-9 and 217 pounds, it’s tough to imagine Arizona Wildcat big man Angelo Chol was once a fumbling kid on the court. The athletic forward’s journey heading into tonights NIT Men’s Basketball Championship tourney against Bucknell began while he and his father fled his native Sudan when he was just a boy.
Chol’s father, Ajieng, was held by Sudan authorities and tortured for creating music focused on the war and religious divide in his country. Sensing danger, Chol’s father shuttled his family out of Sudan, living for a few weeks in a refugee camp. The Chol clan eventually ended up in Egypt after crossing the Red Sea. Unfortunately, Chol lost his mother at age 4.
Now 18, Chol was just 7 when he and his father arrived in San Diego by way of a refugee program. As he grew, he was led to try out basketball at an early age because of his height but wasn’t the most adept player, according to early accounts. Hoover High School coach Ollie Goulston even said that his former player may have been the worst basketball player he’d ever seen. Patience and good fortune, however, has found its way into Chol’s life thanks to some big hearted people.
Adjusting to the culture as best he could, Chol would find refuge in a community center where Becky Moores, former wife of San Diego Padres owner John Moores, met the young man and took him under her wing. Helping Chol with food and even a vehicle, the pair formed a familial bond that still exists today. Lawyer Leslie Coughlin also stepped in to help Chol, this after working as a tutor at the center where he met Mrs. Moores.
Angelo’s father would eventually begin taking up music again, travelling around the country before moving back to Sudan and remarrying. Chol wasn’t left to fend for himself, as Coach Goulston gamely stepped up into a father figure role, after Ajieng asked him to do so. Goulson’s dedication to Angelo has not wavered, even as he’s gone on to college.
”Angelo's a special person. They don't come around every day. That's the bottom line,'' Goulston said. ''Sometimes there are kids; they impact you as much as you impact them.
Source: Associated Press
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