Exchange Student Helps Harrisburg Hoops

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By WSIL Sports

HARRISBURG -- Harrisburg, Illinois is the last place you would expect to see a student from Iceland. But for the next six months, it's home for Snjolfur Bjornsson.

"It's been great so far," the junior said. "I'm making good grades and everybody is very nice around here."

Bjornsson, or Snowy as he's better known, is a foreign exchange student. He's learning the American culture by going to school and doing everything any normal teenager would do, including trying out for the basketball team.

"Snowy came in and made the basketball team and is a very good kid to be around and a very good athlete," Bulldogs head coach Randy Smithpeters said.

His time on the court has made the transition to the United States easier. He's quickly made friends with his teammates, who still have trouble saying his name correctly.

"There's so many things I've heard, I cannot say them all," Snowy said. "It's like, 'Snoofer, Snafer, Snooher', nobody can say my name really."

Smithpeters says foreign exchange students are common in Harrisburg. The school averages about four per year.

"It's something the community's used to, it's something we here at the high school are used to and it's a great program," Smithpeters added.

Often times the students are athletes. At 6-foot-3, Snowy has been playing basketball in Iceland for years and is happy to help the Bulldogs any way he can.

"I've been coming off the bench and playing some good defense and trying to help the team win some games," the junior said.

Bjornsson says the chance to study and play basketball here in the States is a opportunity of a lifetime. Even if his friends have trouble pronouncing his name.
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