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With family stuck in Nigeria, Nande fights for roster spot

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by wrbanwal, Aug 5, 2008.

  1. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    I'm not sure he has a chance of making the team but, it's an interesting story and dude is from Grand Rapids, MI (where I call home, for now)



    Now that the age of too much information has ripped off the clothes of so many athletes, sports pretty much has become a naked city. If you've done something, if it's happened to you, we can find out about it. Stories leap from Google's cliff like so many lemmings.

    Terna Nande (45) is trying to crack a Chargers roster already full of linebackers.

    Athletes, like show business celebrities, politicians and even those not haunted by paparazzi, no longer can hide from our insatiable quest for dirt. Immunity from the public eye is something for athletes of past generations, when people either weren't allowed to see, or didn't care to. How many fans knew Babe Ruth was a drunk and womanizer?

    We know now. Skeletons are out of the closet.

    But every so often a story tugs at you a bit, even when it involves an athlete who isn't looking for sympathy, one who has managed to get by in spite of it all. Terna Nande is one.

    Nande is a 25-year-old free-agent linebacker trying to become a Charger. In that he's attempting to make the deepest team in the NFL, he knows the odds of his shot are long. The Chargers' pool doesn't have much of a shallow end.

    But, given where he's come from and the road he's traveled, this isn't much. He's going to give it a try, if for nothing else to get noticed. There must be a place for him.

    Nande is the son of David and Veronica. Nande's parents and his oldest sister Dooshima were born in Nigeria. They came to the United States on student visas and Nande's parents attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. There, Terna and younger brother Tersee were born.

    In 1989, Veronica's father passed away, so, with David staying behind to work, she took her children with her back to Nigeria for the funeral. But when they tried to leave the country, Veronica and Dooshima were told before boarding the plane there were complications with their visas. They couldn't return to the States.

    If Veronica hadn't already graduated from Calvin, her student visa wouldn't have expired. Terna and Tersee were free to go, but they remained with Veronica and Dooshima for a time before returning to Michigan. Terna was 5. That was the last time he saw his mother and sister. They have been unable to leave the oil-rich country in which violence has been the most popular item on the menu.

    “My father and my auntie raised me and my brother,” Nande says. “It was tough growing up without a mother. My father worked two jobs to make ends meet. We turned out OK.”

    Terna found refuge in football. He starred at Grand Rapids Creston High, where he got some All-America notices and was first-team all-state. He also played basketball and ran track before attending Miami of Ohio (as Tersee did later), where he played with Ben Roethlisberger. He finished his college career with 288 tackles – 38 for losses – along with 13 sacks and four interceptions, and graduated with a degree in physical therapy.

    Nande was taken in the fifth round of the 2006 draft by the Titans, was on the practice squad and activated briefly before eventually being waived and signed by the Colts. Released by the Colts last October, he was signed to the Chargers' practice squad in November. The club re-signed him in January.

    For nearly 20 years, he's had very little communication with his mother and sister, who are attending nursing school in Nigeria, which could be their ticket out.

    “I've been wanting to go back, but there are problems with security,” he says. “There are growing problems over there. It's very corrupt. It's harsh, and they can recognize you as an American citizen just like that.

    “We've tried a lot of different ways to bring them back. Nothing's worked. But, if you're in a nursing program, you can get a visa to work in the States. If my father had gone back with us, he wouldn't have gotten out, either.”

    Nande can't remember much about his time in Nigeria, except they lived in the country, and it wasn't good.

    “It's all a little vague,” says the 6-foot, 230-pound Nande. “You bathed outside, I remember. You boiled a pot of water. If you wanted to go to the bathroom, you dug a hole.”

    Nande realizes where he is now. Nothing vague. He has indoor plumbing. He knows how hard it will be to make this roster. He isn't all that big, but he can run.

    “I know it's tough,” he says. “This is a very talented team. My way of making it probably will be special teams. I know I'm not going to jump in and play defense right away. It's not going to happen on this team.”

    If Nande doesn't make it in the NFL, he always has that degree on his wall.

    “I want to go back and get my master's,” he says. “I've dipped into a little real estate. My dream is to own a gym and train athletes.

    “Right now, I'm trying to make it here. Sometimes it takes a lot of tries to find that fit. There are a lot of free agents here who have made it. Those are stories that keep me going.”

    His story isn't bad.
  2. SanDiegoRon

    SanDiegoRon BoltTalker

    Jan 13, 2006
    Nande was an absolute stud in college... a man amoung boys... too bad he didn't play in the SEC...

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