The Maryland Terrapins take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament today (Update: The Terrapins loss their second round game 69 -59 in what could be Varun Ram’s last game as a collegiate player. He scored two points in two minutes following the heroics earlier that won him the national spotlight. Read on for more).
The Washington Post reports they may not have gotten there without the heroics of a little used Indian American guard who disrupted a last ditch attempt by Valparaiso in their first round game, giving Maryland a 65 -62 victory.
Varun Ram is one of a handful of Indian Americans playing Division I NCAA basketball. His teammates mobbed him on the court after their first round game and Indian Americans watching on TV cheered him with pride.
“It’s kind of like seeing your own hopes and dreams come true a little bit,” Shaun Jayachandran said. “He’s living the Indian Terrapin dream.”. Jayachandran runs a basketball academy near Boston aimed at Indian American kids.
Ram journey onto the Terrapin squad is quite unique. He’s a neurobiology and physiology major with a 3.99 GPA. Coming out of high school, he spent a year at boarding school to increase his chances of getting on a Division I basketball team. Some questioned his parents for allowing him to do that.
“Just do what most Indian kids do, just go study, and your life will be okay,” Ram remembered people saying. “That’s why I’m so happy that my parents have been so great to me, because I think it’s opened people’s eyes. This is more than just a game. You CAN do so many other things with it. You CAN balance academics and sports.”
You can read more of Ram’s story in the Washington Post.