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Bezhoski enjoys a new life as a Edgar Wildcat
It has never been an easy thing to come to a foreign place, to be the stranger in a strange land. But Petar Bezhoski is doing just that, and thriving.
Bezhoski, a senior and foreign exchange student at Edgar High, is originally from Macedonia, a landlocked country in Southern Europe that occupies the Balkan Peninsula.
Macedonia is a small country - it’s 10,000 square miles pales in comparison to Wisconsin’s 65,000 square miles. But it’s an ancient land, one that is steeped in history and antiquity.
The country is famous as the birthplace of Alexander the Great, the mighty general who conquered the known world at the head of a Greek army over two thousand years ago.
Perhaps in some small way, Bezhoski may have been inspired by his ancient countryman, for Bezhoski has set his sights on conquering the basketball court while wearing a Wildcat uniform.
It’s a great goal, but one that has seen its share of challenges, not the least being that Bezhoski is new to the team.
“Back home I know all the guys and here I was just basically thrown in with these guys and I had to adjust to them,” Bezhoski said.
As he’s worked to come to grips with the English language, pop culture and school work, Bezhoski has found a home on the basketball court, a sport that he’s naturally suited for with his 6’3” frame.
He’s played basketball for several years in his native country, but he’s working now with new teammates who are now his new friends.
“It definitely feels very vindicating that the people on the team want me there, and want me to be part of the team,” Bezhoski says about being accepted. “I’d say it’s been very liberating for me as a person.”
Other hurdles go beyond team chemistry and communication, and have more to do with physical challenges. Bezhoski says the brand of basketball played in the States tends to be more rugged and physical compared to Europe’s more finesse based style.
“I see more physicality here than at home. That’s also been a little bit of adjustment. The easiest part has probably been shooting, since our three point line is a bit further back.”
Bezoski also says perhaps the biggest hurdle he’s had to face is the speed of the game, which he says can be slower than what he’s used to back in Macedonia.
“It’s definitely different, some of the rules are different. For example, we have a shot clock, so the whole tempo of a game is different. So, since we do have a shot clock, there’s no five second rule, so you can hold a basketball for as long as you want.”
All of these things - new teammates, new rules, new style of play - are hard enough to overcome, but Bezhoski has not let those things bother him. Just being on the court and being able to run up and down the floor is a gift unto itself.
That’s because Bezhoski is fighting to get back to full strength, suffering several injuries, and undergoing several surgeries before coming to Edgar.
“Before I departed for the U.S. I had two ankle injuries,” Bezhoski explains. “It’s been a tough process trying to regain what I once had.”
But playing in the United States also has its advantages, and as he has grown more comfortable on the court, he’s seen his game become more well-rounded, and he’s eager to take what he’s learned in Edgar and apply it to his game back in Macedonia.
“Here, I am working on different parts of the game than I would normally work on back home. So, I feel like when I return to Macedonia, I will be a more well-rounded player.”
That’s still months away though, and for now, Bezhoski is enjoying being embraced by his new home of Edgar, and after a few months in Wisconsin, is happy to be a part of a team once again.
“We’ve formed a strong bond between us, and it’s been a very good experience for me personally,” Bezhoski says about his life as an Edgar Wildcat. “I feel like being a part of the team has made me feel more accepted here in the U.S., and the guys on the team have definitely embraced me as a friend.”