Another Bronco netter headed to a four-year school

NMMI's Lorish Surrounded by her teammates, Lorish Puluspene signs her LOI to play at Henderson State next season. Also seated at the table with Puluspene (center) are NMMI Athletic Director Jose Barron (left) and head women's tennis coach Dan O'Connell (right).

Surrounded by her teammates, NMMI’s Lorish Puluspene signs her LOI to play at Henderson State next season. Also seated at the table with Puluspene (center) are NMMI Athletic Director Jose Barron (left) and head women’s tennis coach Dan O’Connell (right).


HendersonStateUReddiesNMMI Sports Press

A long-time student of Lady Bronco tennis coach Dan O’Connell will be joining several teammates at a four-year school. Lorish Puluspene is headed to Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark., joining former teammates Thea Minor and Lorraine Banimataku.

O’Connell is proud of all his athletes, but Puluspene, from Papua, New Guinea, just may be a little extra special, since he’s known her since she was 11 years old.

LorishPuluspene

Lorish Puluspene

“I recruited her to the training center in Fiji,” he said. “She was there with me for six years and then I left to come to the best junior college in the country, New Mexico Military Institute.”

Two years ago, he brought her to the Institute, where she helped the Broncos to success.

“She’s been a fantastic young lady for seven or eight years, and she’ll do very well in life,” the coach said. “I’ll miss her dearly. She’s a superstar.”

During a trip to play the Reddies last year, HSU coach Brenda Joiner asked Puluspene if she wanted to come play for her, and the sophomore said yes.

Lorish Puluspene in a singles match vs. the University of the Southwest on April 21, 2015.

Lorish Puluspene in a singles match as an NMMI freshman vs. the University of the Southwest on April 21, 2015.

“I took that offer,” she said, explaining that playing with her former teammates is the best part. “That’s going to be exciting, especially because one of my best friends (Banimataku) is there. It’s going to be tough for me, because I’ve played her so many times, and we’ve had our ups and downs. Winning, losing and so on.”

Puluspene isn’t sure where she’ll play in the lineup — she’s guessing No. 3 or 4 — but just going on to a four-year college is what’s important. She’s be studying sports management at the DII Great American Conference school, and said what she learned at NMMI will help as she advances.

“What I have learned here I will take to my next school, so it’s going to be easy for me to adjust to my new university,” she said.

And O’Connell was also a huge help.

“He has helped me a lot since I was 11 years old, over in Fiji and now here,” Puluspene said. “He’s helped me a lot in both tennis and academics.”

And, she had a lot of people to thank for her success.

“I would like to thank my family, who’s always been there supporting me throughout my tennis career. And without coach, I wouldn’t be here. Also thanks to NMMI, for bringing me this far in terms of leadership and responsibility. And also, I would like to thank my old coaches from Papua, New Guinea, coach Kwalam Apisah and coach Vera Tere Apisah. And I’m looking forward to joining coach Brenda at Henderson.”

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