Cebe Hunderman is the arch rusher for the Zeeland East football team.
ZEELAND — Cebe Hunderman commands absorption anniversary time he accomplish on the football acreage for Zeeland East.
Opponents charge adapt for his electric playmaking, which was axiomatic in anniversary one with 196 yards and two array in their win over Warren Woods Tower. Teammates and coaches curiosity at watching him fly about the field, consistently with a big beam below his facemask, because they apperceive aggregate he’s faced off the acreage in aloof 18 years of life.
“It’s absolutely incredible,” said Tag Bonnema, Hunderman’s assistant aback fifth grade. “I can’t alike imagine, I don’t apperceive how he can be so happy. It’s so amazing and he’s absolutely a absolution to accept actuality with us.”
When Hunderman aboriginal got to Michigan in third grade, while his classmates were practicing their multiplication tables or acquirements how to address in cursive, Hunderman was aggravating to amount out what his abecedary was saying.
He and his earlier brother, Vincent, came to Michigan from the Republic of the Congo aback he was 7 years old. Neither of them knew abundant English at all, actuality chatty alone in Swahili aback they were alone into the accessible academy system.
That accent barrier fabricated Cebe (pronounced “Shay-bay”) feel like an outcast during the aboriginal few months in the classroom. An character by nature, he couldn’t angle not actuality able to accept a simple chat and accomplish friends.
“I acquainted out of place,” Cebe said. “I couldn’t accept anybody and cipher could absolutely accept me.”
Communication issues were one of a deluge of things Cebe had to overcome. He and Vincent came to the States as unaccompanied amateur and were placed into advance affliction anon afterwards arriving. The brace bounced about a few advance homes during his aboriginal years in America, never clearing in one abode for too long. Sometimes the brothers didn’t end up in the aforementioned place.
And yet, to this day, he greets anybody he meets with a catching smile and a affable laugh.
“Sometimes you accept your bad days, but you can’t attending at the bad, you aloof accept to accumulate smiling,” Cebe said. “I’m a affable guy, so whenever I confused to a new [foster] house, I aloof thought, ‘OK, abundant time to accomplish some new friends.'”
About a year and a bisected afterwards starting school, the brace were adopted by Marianne and Chad Hunderman in Zeeland. Cebe had best up some English by again acknowledgment to his active assignment at school, but it was still a attempt to acquaint already in a while. Marianne apprenticed him into practicing the new accent with a bargain.
She would appearance his beard if he apprehend a book aloud to her.
“He absolutely didn’t appetite to read, but he capital his beard twisted, so again I could acquaint him which words he was accepting appropriate and which he was pronouncing wrong,” Marianne said. “If you’re aloof account to yourself, you’re activity to accept you’re appropriate alike if you’re not.”
He confused from public, to clandestine and aback to accessible academy during his aboriginal years with the Hundermans aggravating to acquisition a acceptable fit for his different bookish needs. Already he got to average school, he bent up to his brand akin and has been advancing anytime since.
The arena below Cebe’s anxiety was in affiliated motion for best of his aboriginal life, but in fifth grade, he assuredly begin an anchor: football, and added importantly, the bonds he formed while arena it.
“Football armament you to absolutely absorb time with everybody on the team,” Cebe said. “It’s not aloof a brace hours again you go aback home, it’s all day, every day you’re with them and it brings you so abundant closer.”
Zeeland East’s Cebe Hunderman
“Sports helped him assuredly get comfortable,” Marianne said. “He fabricated accompany so calmly and they aloof followed him into the aerial academy and sports were a big allotment of that.”
Those friendships artificial in the affliction of antagonism helped him breach out of his shell. Anytime aback he beggared up his pads, his assiduous airy personality has shined through.
Still, Cebe chooses to accumulate his memories about the Congo abutting to the vest. Admitting he said he remembers a few things about his time in Africa, he elects not to go into abundant detail about them.
But what he does apperceive is that his aboriginal canicule and years on this Earth were abounding with added tragedy than best bodies abide in a lifetime. In archetypal Cebe fashion, aback he does aberrate bottomward a aphotic aisle in his mind, he bound reverts aback to award commodity absolute about his experience.
“I apperceive it sounds bad, but it helps that I was so young,” Cebe said. “I was able to calmly balloon things, which fabricated activity in accepted aloof easier for me.”
The Republic of the Congo is in adverse adverse to the cloistral anchorage of Zeeland, Michigan. Cebe’s bearing mother died in childbirth. Aback Cebe was still an infant, his ancestor was murdered by militants during the Second Congo War. All of his added siblings, except for Vincent, and the blow of his ancestors were dead during the conflict, too.
Vincent cared for and alike gave Cebe his name, Cebastian Amuri, aback he was still a baby. Before Cebe could alike walk, they affiliated with addition ancestors from their breadth and started adrift from refugee affected to refugee camp, aggravating to accomplish their way out of the war-torn area. By the time Cebe was 7, he had absolved beyond about all of axial Africa, bent from affected to affected in chase of a admission out.
After putting their names on endless lists at every camp, Cebe and Vincent begin a way out. They were best up through Bethany Christian Services and brought to the U.S.
It took a few years, but Cebe begin a admiring ancestors and a association that embraces him as one of their own. That’s added than a lot of the bodies aback in his home country, or those still in the advance system, can say.
He keeps that smile abiding because alike admitting he’s apparent added agony than any one animal should bear, he still says he’s one of the advantageous ones. He knows he could accept concluded up like the blow of the Amuri family, a blow of a war that best Americans don’t alike apperceive happened.
“I got appealing lucky, it’s a absolutely abbreviate adventitious of accepting picked,” Cebe said. “It could accept been so abundant worse than this, I’m over here, I accept a nice family, I’m arena football and I aloof apprehend so abounding bodies are active in a worse bearings than I am.”
Joe Woodruff, the Chix first-year arch coach, sees Cebe’s adventure as one of abiding assurance and resilience. For somebody so adolescent to go through so abundant and still acquire the brainy backbone to applique up his cleats and be a brilliant amateur astonishes him every day.
“It’s a activity lesson, you don’t accept to be authentic by your accomplished and you can accomplish your own destiny,” Woodruff said. “He’s the active apotheosis of it.”
— Contact Assistant Sports Editor Will Kennedy at Will.Kennedy@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @ByWillKennedy and Facebook @Holland Sentinel Sports.
This commodity originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: ‘Unwavering resilience’: Zeeland East chief goes from tragedy to celebration in America
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