Stephan Burrows woke up every morning at Florida Air Academy at 5:30 a.m. for the habitual head count and inspection.
As the wing commander pointed an erect finger to slowly count the close-cropped heads, Burrows’ thoughts would drift away to his Caribbean island home, where he was playing with his older brothers.
Leaving Freeport, Grand Bahamas weighed heavily on the Sharks’ point guard. His longing for his sandy tropical home made him trudge through his adversity.
The youngest of three siblings, Burrows left his Caribbean home to increase his basketball opportunities in the United States. His parents decided to send him to Florida Air Academy, a military school in Melbourne, Fla., which is known for its athletic programs.
“It was a big change. The environment, the people, and the school were all very different from the Bahamas,” said Burrows, 18. The 6-foot-1 point guard struggled to adapt to the culture shock encountered in his move from the Bahamas to the United States in 2008.
Eventually, Burrows remedied his nostalgia by spending more time on the hardwood.
“At first I didn’t like it at all, but as we started practicing and playing it started to get better,” Burrows said.
The 190-pound freshman’s efforts did not go unnoticed. Miami Dade men’s basketball coach Stephen Cowherd offered the quick athletic guard a scholarship.
Cowherd, a former point guard at South Alabama University, said that Burrows shows a lot of potential on the court, and reminded him of his younger self.
“Stephan has shown the most progress out of the entire team. He is a good leader and he does things the right way,” Cowherd said.
It’s All In The Genes
Burrows credits his cousin Kenth Syonette for introducing him to basketball when he was 11. That moment would carry forward, leading to the number 11 on Burrows’ jersey.
The family ties don’t end there. Elvis Burrows, the second youngest of the Burrows brothers, is an Olympic swimmer for the Bahamas who broke many of his country’s records, including the 50-meter freestyle and the 100-meter freestyle.
Burrows’ hereditary athleticism is not all he owes to his family. More importantly, it was their support that allowed him to cure his homesickness.
“[Elvis] would always tell me to keep my chin up and to never give up on myself,” Burrows said.