Cameroon native scores big for Zips

“Jolene Tamboue, a senior and power forward on the women’s basketball team, is having the best season of her basketball career. The University of Akron player was born in Cameroon, Africa and lived there for the first five years of her life. In Cameroon, Tamboue started school at the age of 2 and continued her schooling in the United States.”

Jolene Tamboue, a senior and power forward on the women’s basketball team, is having the best season of her basketball career.

The University of Akron player was born in Cameroon, Africa and lived there for the first five years of her life.

In Cameroon, Tamboue started school at the age of 2 and continued her schooling in the United States. A native French speaker, Tamboue entered second grade at the age of 5 unable to speak English.

When I got here dad did not want me to take a step back, so I started second grade, Tamboue said.

Tamboue and her family moved to Manhattan, Kan.

My sisters were always there to push me in life, Tamboue said.

Tamboue began her athletic career as a soccer player and fan in her native Cameroon.

I started to play basketball when I came to the United States at 5 to 6 years old and a guy that was coaching basketball asked me to play, Tamboue said.

Even in little league, Tamboue was a rebounder and always had to play with kids older than her.

When I was a kid, my team and I went to pop fire crackers and one popped on my leg and I still played the next day, Tamboue said.

As a freshman in high school, Tamboue started for the varsity basketball team which ended the season with a 20-0 record.

My sisters always got on me and pushed me harder plus I have always had a coach there to push me, Tamboue said.

After graduating high school at the age of 16, Tamboue went to Independence Community College in Kansas.

I went there for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to get more basketball experience at the college level and second, I liked the school when I went on a visit, Tamboue said. It was close to home and at 16 I don’t think I would have been ready to go to a big college that far away.

While attending college in Kansas, Tamboue won the player of the year award twice.

It was a great accomplishment. It was for all around player, leading rebounder and good leader, Tamboue said.

Her successful seasons at the community college level led to attention from larger schools.

The first time I ever heard of Akron was when I got a letter, then a phone call and they asked me to come up here, Tamboue said.

When not playing basketball, Tamboue spends her time on her academics and is currently majoring in biochemisty.

Basketball helps me stay on task and helps me focus on everything because I know if I don’t have the grades I cannot play, Tamboue said.

Her dad is a pharmacist and she has always loved chemistry and math.

Since the beginning of her career with the Zips, Tamboue’s work ethic and intensity impressed Zips head coach Jodi Kest.

Tamboue says there is a major difference between playing at the community college level and playing for a Division I basketball team.

The difference is the playing style is more structured here at Akron, Tamboue said.

So far this season, Tamboue has an impressive five double-doubles, 233 points, 211 rebounds, 22 blocks and 39 assists.

Despite these impressive statistics, Tamboue’s personal memorable moment is a big win over the Michigan Wolverines.

So far beating Michigan is my favorite memory, but this year has been outstanding and hopefully we end on a good note, Tamboue said.

Even with a degree in biochemistry, now I want to go into coaching, Tamboue said.