published Thursday, November 24th, 2011

UTC foreigners to get a taste of Thanksgiving

Martynas Bareika and Drazen Zlovaric didn't grow up with the traditional Thanksgiving.

After all it is an American holiday, and Bareika spent his childhood in Lithuania and Zlovaric spent most of his formative years in Serbia.

They've grown to appreciate it.

A lot of the holiday is about spending time with family which makes it similar to some of their favorite native holidays.

They will not have the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their biological families.

But the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball players will spend it with their greater American families.

Bareika will head up Lookout Mountain with a couple of teammates and enjoy a feast at coach John Shulman's house.

"This is my second Thanksgiving, and I don't I really get the main thing of Thanksgiving, but I know that it makes people get back together, and families together," said Bareika, who spent last Thanksgiving with teammate Sam Watson. "I like the idea. I kind of think it's like a preparation for Christmas.

"It might not be a lie that I came back five pounds heavier last year."

Zlovaric is taking teammates Keegan Bell and Omar Wattad to a feast at the home of his host family, "Dad" Steve Campbell, in Cleveland where he finished up high school.

He first experienced turkey, stuffing and all the fixings during his junior year in high school as an exchange student.

"We're going to go have a nice dinner, and I really like Thanksgiving," Zlovaric said. "It's one of my favorite holidays, and Thanksgiving is by far, my favorite American holiday."

Thanksgiving plans are different for the Mocs this year. They will practice Thursday morning then have a late evening walk-through prior to their Friday evening game against Savannah State.

The evening walk-through and game on Friday at 7 against the Tigers (1-4) could be motivating factors for the Mocs to ease up at the table and avoid what could be a 2,000- to 4,500-calorie day.

That's especially for Bell who put himself on a strict, healthy and low-sugar diet in the summer and has maintained it through the early part of the season. Yet, he said, on this occasion, he may cheat on the diet a bit and grab a slice of pumpkin pie.

"I'll probably do a little bit of cheating, but I'll still do my best to stick with turkey as much as possible especially since we play the next day," Bell said. "We don't get to see our family, but we'll be around loving people and it will be our family away from family."

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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