Women’s basketball graduate Naomi Ganpo ’22 awarded scholarship to spend year in Ireland

Womens basketball alum Naomi Ganpo was named a Victory Scholar, an honor that will  take her athletic and academic career to Ireland. 
(Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

Women’s basketball alum Naomi Ganpo was named a Victory Scholar, an honor that will take her athletic and academic career to Ireland. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

On Sept. 16, Naomi Ganpo, a ’22 Lafayette basketball alum, was awarded the Victory Scholarship granted through the Sport Changes Life Foundation (SCLF).

SCLF is a sports foundation that values “inspiration, hope and victory” and works in “disadvantaged communities to help young people find a path to a brighter future with the help of our international student-athletes, the Victory Scholars.” 

The scholarship will allow Ganpo to continue her academic and athletic career at South East Technological College in Carlow, Ireland. As part of her curriculum at the College, Ganpo will have scheduled basketball practice three times a week, and hour-long lectures daily. She is pursuing a master’s degree in human resources, contrasting with her time in the biology lab at Lafayette.  

“One of the things that I’m really looking forward to is just learning as much as I can,” Ganpo said. “I’m looking forward to doing something new and learning about the Irish communities and immersing myself in the experience since 10 months can go by really fast.”

In addition to continuing her academic and athletic career, as a Victory Scholar Ganpo will have the opportunity to work with young people in Ireland, gaining valuable life skills that will help in professional and personal development. The other weekend, Ganpo spent eight hours coaching youth, teens and adults. Every Tuesday and Wednesday Ganpo helps coach basketball practices for players 16 and under. 

“It’s pretty cool getting to see the range of basketball skills and all,” she said. “It’s really good seeing the little achievements that the kids have and just seeing them master a skill that they didn’t have at the beginning.”

Ganpo has maintained contact with Lafayette coaching staff and Richard Wanninger, senior associate commissioner for External Relations, throughout the process. 

“[The Patriot League and Lafayette] were a major part in getting me to even apply and help me out with the process of interviewing. They have been very integral in getting me here,” Ganpo said.

She plans to carry the values and lessons that she learned during her time as a Leopard to help her during her abroad experience.

“To be able to have that support from them, even to get here, was very major, and now I’m on my own to represent the value of the Patriot League because it doesn’t matter if I play here, I still spent four years of my education and playing time at Lafayette, so I still have to represent us very well,” Ganpo said. 

Head women’s basketball Coach Kia Damon-Olson knows Lafayette prepared her well. 

“[Ganpo] is such a well-rounded kid, so obviously the rigor of Lafayette, the community involvement, the opportunities, just the support systems, you know, I think it makes it very easy for students like Naomi to go into another country and learn their way, teaching, academics, all those kinds of things,” Damon-Olson said. 

Ganpo was part of Damon-Olson’s first Lafayette basketball class. Damon-Olson predicts that the Maroon and White’s style of play will benefit Ganpo in Ireland. 

“From a work ethic standpoint, she really learned to embrace the grind,” Damon-Olson said. 

Ganpo joins past Lafayette Basketball Patriot League Victory Scholarship Participants Sarah McGorry (2012-2013), Ellen Graham (2018-19 and 2019-20), Matt Betley (2008-09), Paul Cummins (2009-10), Jim Mower (2012-13) and Jared Mintz (2013-14).