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Titans Basketball Player Scores Opportunity of a Lifetime at CSUF

Class of 2024 Grad Gabi Vidmar Plans to Become Elementary School Teacher
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Leaving her home country Australia in pursuit of playing basketball competitively in the United States was Gabi Vidmar’s dream since high school. 

“After visiting Cal State Fullerton, meeting the women’s basketball team and the coaches, I knew it would be a right fit for me,” said Vidmar, a child and adolescent studies major and Class of 2024 grad. “I also thought that I can make a positive impact on the team culture.”

The recipient of a full athletic scholarship, Vidmar will soon step on the commencement stage and receive her degree. She offered a piece of advice to her fellow graduates.

“Enjoy the moment when you’re in it,” she said. “The whole college experience is really special — and it flies by quickly.”

Finding Opportunities as a Student-Athlete

Vidmar has been a champion player for the women’s basketball team for four years. She was named to the All-Big Freshman team. Throughout her undergraduate career, she was named Big West Player of the Week twice and earned a Big West honorable mention. On the court, Vidmar had the best shooting senior year of her career, scoring 285 field goals and 65 three-pointers. 

“Before coming to the United States, I was playing basketball at home and training daily, which helped me prepare for college,” said Vidmar. She explained that the style of play in Australia compared to the United States differs based on physical intensity, set plays and where players are allowed to dribble on the court. 

When preparing for the season, Vidmar said the women’s basketball team trains two to three hours every day for eight months of the year to improve their game. After the team lifts weights with the strength coaches and practices on the court, Vidmar tries to “get some extra shots up.” 

“The training load was definitely an adjustment when I first started as a freshman, but as the years have gone on, I have become used to the daily training environment,” Vidmar added. “I am really grateful for the friendships I have made over the past four years, especially being so far away from home.”

With a tight-knit team bond, they traveled to Italy in the summer 2023, exploring Milan, Rome, Lake Como, Florence and Cinque Terre. 

“I’ve never been to Europe before, so that was exciting. We were able to play basketball in a different country and also had the chance to do a lot of sightseeing,” said Vidmar.

From Basketball Court to Classroom

After graduation, Vidmar plans to return to Australia and become an elementary school teacher while continuing to play basketball.

Vidmar’s involvement as a kids’ basketball coach in Australia inspired her to major in child and adolescent studies. Her first research class, Inquiry and Methodology in Development taught by Pamella Oliver, professor of child and adolescent studies, strengthened her love for working with children. 

“She was so supportive of all of her students, and was very flexible and accommodating about me being a student-athlete,” said Vidmar. “I always loved going to her class because she was very passionate about learning and made the classroom a comfortable environment.”

One skill that stuck with Vidmar from the class was building the foundation of understanding and evaluating research studies effectively, which applies to future child and adolescent studies courses.

During her practicum course, she dedicated a minimum of 60 hours to working with the children at Rolling Hills Elementary School in Fullerton. She analyzed their experiences in relation to developmental theory, professional development skills, cultural competence and developmentally appropriate practice.

Reflecting on her fieldwork experience, Vidmar said she is grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to the youth’s development. 

“I loved doing my practicum work there and learning from the teachers and students,” said Vidmar. “Since I was at the school for two years in the same kindergarten and first-grade classroom, I was fortunate to watch a few of the same students develop over time. It was incredibly special for me.”

Written by: Vanessa Siguenza