Searching “Sally Kabengano” on search engines did not garner many results, but a search of “Salome Kabengano” revealed the former Owl’s personal blog about her time in Philadelphia – to her surprise.
“Can you see my blog?” Kabengano said in a phone interview, laughing at the mention of her website. “I didn’t know that.”
After a promising rookie season, Salome “Sally” Kabengano decided to leave Temple and travel back to her hometown overseas due to the pressure of balanacing life as a student-athlete.
Kabengano was born in Nairobi, Kenya, but spent most of her childhood in Södermanland, Sweden, where she flourished as a member of the Swedish Junior National team. Weighing the options of playing professionally in Sweden or coming to the United States to play for a collegiate program, Kabengano eventually decided to come to Temple in 2012.
As a freshman, Kabengano started 29 of 31 games as one of Temple’s forwards, averaging 5.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and more than 30 minutes per game.
Though there was an adjustment period for the left-handed Swede to the American game, Kabengano was also coping with cultural differences between Sweden and the United States. In her personal blog “Sally in Philly,” Kabengano recorded her day-to-day activities, including observations of what she perceived as strange practices in America.
“You know how it is,” Kabengano said. “You get home. You’re tired. I exaggerated things. [There are] some things good, some things bad, [but] I love U.S.A.”
“Like, I’m not religious at all,” Kabengano added. “I know in the U.S., it’s a big thing. Praying before games, before meals. That was a new thing for me, and I’m very, very atheist. So, you kind of meet people halfway. It was a team ritual. I didn’t mind doing it.”
Despite the cultural shift, Kabengano was fully expected to evolve as a player and become a major presence for the Owls moving forward. However, Kabengano did not return to Temple for the 2013-14 season.
“Basically, it was just that the college life didn’t suit me too much,” Kabengano said. “Combining everything with school, I felt like I couldn’t give one thing 100 percent. [Coach Tonya Cardoza] doesn’t like to have a player there who isn’t 100 percent committed to their play or the program. I don’t want to be there not giving [it my all].”
Kabengano returned to Sweden and she is now playing for Telge basketball as a sixth-man power forward.
Even though her American career did not grow beyond the first season, Kabengano said that because of the relationships she made with her Owls teammates and the experience she had in America, there is no regret spending last season in Philadelphia.
“I follow all of [Temple’s] games because the girls are my friends,” Kabengano said. “When I decided I wanted to go home, I feel like me and the girls came even closer. They were all very supportive. [Now] we Snapchat each other all the time.”
“I needed that experience,” Kabengano added. “I grew so much that year. It was a really fun year.”
Brien Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BErick1123.