BY ROBERT GRAVES
Meet Etienne Ettlinger, a Swiss member of College of the Desert men’s basketball team. Ettlinger is one of many international students attending COD. These students are here for studies, but many of them are come to participate in athletics on both the men and women’s Roadrunner teams.
Ettlinger has had a long journey to the United States. He was born and raised in Romanshorn, Switzerland. It was in Switzerland where he was introduced to basketball for the first time. He was just 10-years-old. “It’s kind of a funny story. We had a fundraiser and the money we made was to build a new playground at school. The older kids wanted to spend the money on new soccer goals, but the younger kids wanted a basketball hoop. The school compromised and gave us one goal and one hoop,” said Ettlinger. “One day I was kicking the soccer ball around and started to play basketball with the soccer ball. I thought it was a lot of fun and could not stop playing,” said Ettlinger.
Ettlinger began playing basketball daily at school. His parents had both played the sport and encouraged him to join a club team. He struggled at his first practice, but his coach showed him how to to do a layup. “I came back the next week and pretty much made all of my layups. My coach said, ‘wow you might become a pro’ so I just kept going,” said Ettlinger.
He then moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada when he was 17-years-old to play high school basketball. During high school, Ettlinger wanted to play college basketball. He made himself known by creating a recruiting page featuring a bio and videos. After his high school career, Ettlinger returned to Romanshorn for a year. It was during this time that he recovered from injuries.
“After my senior year in high school I played for a club team in Austria. I suffered my injuries when I played with them. I tore two ligaments in my right foot. I came back for the playoffs but then I broke my finger,” said Ettlinger.
Ettlinger decided that junior college would be a good idea and COD was the one that he kept hearing from. “For some reason College of the Desert kept popping up on my recruiting profile. I thought Southern California sounded nice so I contacted the coach. He was very interested in me and I ended up enrolling in the fall of 2014,” Ettlinger said.
Ettlinger was both a basketball player and a fan and spoke of his idols on the court, “I looked up to Allen Iverson as a kid. I even had cornrows when I was 11 because I was such a big fan. When he retired I was looking for someone new, so I started following John Wall. He was amazing at Kentucky and that’s when I started getting into college basketball. Ever since I’ve been watching him.”
Ettlinger also expressed optimism for his future, whether he’s going to be playing or coaching, “I’m not totally sure if I’m going to keep playing long term. I really want to help improve Swiss basketball. I would like to see more possibilities for young players to reach their full potential.”
Ettlinger plans on returning to Switzerland in June.