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'Most diverse team in Texas': From India to Eritrea, high school basketball team finds unity in each other's differences

Coppell's roster features seven sons of immigrant parents.

COPPELL, Texas — At first glance, the boys basketball team at Coppell looks like any other.

More than a dozen sweaty teenagers hit the court Monday morning in preparation for their playoff game versus McKinney.

Coppell has won the district title three of the last four years.

A squad laden with seniors hoping their high school hoops career lives past Tuesday night.

"It's special, it's a special team," explained sophomore Alex Tung. "You don't really see a team like this anywhere else."

Not only are the Cowboys talented, but their team photo is reminiscent of a classroom poster for diversity.

"I think by far we're the most diverse team in Texas," Tung asserted.

Seven players are the sons of immigrant parents including seniors Devank Rane and Stanford commit Ryan Agarwal.

Rane and Agarwal, both born and raised in Coppell, have known each other their entire lives.

"Our parents have known each other since before we were born, so we have pictures together from one month old," Rane elaborated, as they have older siblings who knew each other too.

Agarwal's mother and father hail from India, along with the parents of sophomore Arhan Lapsiwala and senior Devesh Lahoti. The father of Alex Ninan, a junior, is also from India.

"We're probably one of the only teams in the country with five Indians on the team," remarked Lapsiwala.

Noel Berhe, a senior, is the son of two parents from Eritrea in eastern Africa.

Sophomore Alex Tung's father is from Rhode Island, while his mother is from Hong Kong, China.

"You don't really see many Asians playing basketball, so you got to represent," Tung smiled."

Credit: WFAA

Four members of the starting lineup have at least one immigrant parent.

The only player with both parents born in the United States is senior guard Naz Brown.

"I share my music with them and put them on new stuff," Brown joked. "And they teach me about their culture, their foods and everything."

Brown, who claimed to have the top sneaker collection of the group, has coached his teammates up on the musical stylings of Snoop Dogg and Tupac.

"It's not hard," Brown continued, referring to getting along with people from different backgrounds. "With these guys, they just want to let you in. They're friendly and good people."

The common theme throughout the team -- sons of immigrants or not -- is the appreciation for each other's cultures.

"It's been really fun," said Berhe. "You just learn a lot more about other people."

"You learn what other people go through," Rane echoed.

For minorities, experiences on the court or in day-to-day life can include people with less tolerant or accepting views.

"I know a couple guys on the team have been called certain slurs because of their race," Agarwal recalled. "But at the end of the day, they know that they have teammates going through it. And if we can all fight through it, they can fight through it, too."

Brown arrived at Coppell for his junior year but has adapted seamlessly.

"When you have the respect we all have for each other -- and getting to know each other's culture -- we can all coexist," Brown said. "We can all succeed like we all do on our team. No matter your skin tone, your background, it doesn't matter where you come from."

When head coach Clint Schnell returned to Coppell to be head coach four years ago, he had an idea the team would look unique. After all, he was an assistant for the Cowboys a decade ago and has witnessed Coppell's cultural infusion.

"I think the pride instilled in me is not that they see each other for their differences, but it's how much they embrace the uniqueness each one brings to the table."

The world could learn a thing or two from a bunch of sweaty teenagers in Coppell.

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