Energy crackles through Worthen Arena seconds before the start of every men’s volleyball match.
Hiago Garchet feels the liveliness. A sophomore setter for Ball State, Garchet is a transfer student from Park University, originally born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
But the energy he feels before beginning a match is nothing like what he was used to feeling in Brazil.
“The energy … you bring it into a game [in Brazil] so much more than you do here,” Garchet said. “We’re more outgoing, there’s more vibration … we’re more open in Brazil about saying things to each other.”
Garchet said in the United States, people have to watch what they say more than in his native country and people are far more independent.
In Brazil he had a housekeeper who cooked meals for him and cleaned his room, forcing him to rely on others and not as much on himself.
The sudden change was slightly startling to him, said head coach Joel Walton. After years of being looked after, Garchet was forced to be completely independent.
“Back there, I had everything. Now I’ve got to do everything myself,” he said. “I kind of like it, I like it better than before, taking care of myself.”
Robiyabonu Dustova understands Garchet’s situation. A worker for the Rinker Center for International Programs, Dustova transferred to Ball State from Tajikistan in central Asia.
She said very few countries have citizens who work as independently as Americans; most countries are group oriented and rely on others to accomplish tasks.
Newfound independence isn’t the only adjustment Garchet’s had to make. He sits behind senior setter Graham McIlvaine, who watched the younger setter grow since he arrived last year.
Garchet has spent his time at Ball State taking McIlvaine’s lead, trying to pick up the intricacies of the position from a player who has gone against some of the top teams in the country.
After initially struggling, Garchet is picking up speed.
“During the preseason he was just throwing balls to random spots and I don’t know why or what he was doing,” McIlvaine said. “Now he’s being a smart setter and it’s the biggest improvement he’s made.”
McIlvaine isn’t the only person who’s seen improvement. Walton has been coaching Garchet since his arrivaland believes he has a quality backup.
He may not be a backup for long, as McIlvaine will graduate and the starting setter position will be up for grabs.
“He thinks the game really well and is really good at locating the ball, a lot better than when he first arrived,” Walton said. “He’s got so many good qualities that we’re looking for in a setter.”
A bonus for Garchet is that he studied English before he came to the United States. He said it took him about a month after transferring to feel comfortable speaking the language, much different from the Portuguese he was used to.
He said he only speaks Portuguese about two percent of the time and speaking English nonstop doesn’t bother him because he’s used to it.
Despite getting used to the language, it’s not easy for him to be away from his family for long periods of time. He described the Brazilian culture as family-oriented.
“I miss my friends, I miss my family,” he said. “It’s hard, them being so far away.”
His voice sparked when he mentioned his parents back home; his energy level seeming to increase before his upcoming 9 a.m. practice.
The same energy level he’s used to playing with in Brazil.