Sports Spotlight: Bartholomew Ogbu

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Bartholomew Ogbu. You may have heard his name the last few years, because he's an excellent athlete at Shiloh Christian. But the story of how he got here and stayed here borders on amazing, and it's the subject of this week's Sports Spotlight.

Not liking the weather this week? Imagine experiencing it for the first time after living in Africa your entire life.

"Snow? I had never seen snow before, and the moment I stepped out of the plane, it was so cold," says Ogbu.

Bartholomew Ogbu is a junior at Shiloh Christian now. But two years ago this week, he said goodbye to his family in his native Nigeria and boarded a flight for North Dakota - his first time on a plane.

"My mom and my dad decided that if I had an opportunity like this, they would support me with everything they've got and that was the main thing to come here. To get a better education and to afford my education," says Ogbu.

He arrived at Shiloh straight from the airport, bags in hand. But he was in for a rude awakening.

"I was asking, 'where am I going to sleep? where's my room or something? Is there a boarding house? And they said 'no, there's no boarding house,'"

There were host families though. And then-superintendent Morgan Forness, provided him a room, and a home.

"I was kind of scared, because I never had been in a room alone in my life. I always had to sleep with my siblings back in Nigeria," says Ogbu.

Thankfully, he discovered comfort food.

"Pepperoni pizza. I was eating pepperoni pizza in the morning, afternoon, almost every time. I just wanted to eat pepperoni pizza," says Ogbu.

To work off all those slices, Ogbu joined the basketball team. He had played a little in Nigeria, but there were still some considerable growing pains.

"He would just hammer everyone. Didn't know what a foul was," says Nick Pfaff, senior guard.

"We were kind of taking bets to see how long it would take for him to foul out. He was trying to block every shot," says Shiloh Head Coach Brad Miller.

Soon Bartholomew took to the sport. But a new problem arose. Forness took a job three hours away at Central Cass, and public school would complicate matters with Ogbu's visa.

"He thought his world was falling apart. And I looked at him and I said, 'what do you want me to do?' And he said, 'can I live with you?' And I said 'sure.' So I called my wife and said 'I guess we're having an exchange student, I hope you're alright with it,'" says Miller.

"He has been my friend ever since, he has been like a father-figure to me right now," says Ogbu.

The cold's not so bad when someone's there to show you a little warmth.