Lior Garzon needs to take an 18-hour plane ride to reach Ra'anana, Israel, her hometown.
“It’s very challenging,” Garzon said. “I feel like just being away from my family and the safe place I know that I grew up in.”
Garzon, an OSU forward, is in her first season with the Cowgirls basketball team, and her work ethic is contagious for fellow Cowgirls.
“She approaches the game and her craft like a pro,” Hoyt said. “And I think that she has really been able to show her teammates what that looks like. It gets them to get in the gym outside of just practice hours.”
Garzon joined OSU after transferring from Villanova, a school about half the size of OSU. Villanova’s student body is 3.4% international students, and OSU’s is 5.2%, which made the transition much easier.
“I feel like OSU is more of the real college experience,” Garzon said. “There are a lot more people here… I like it. You can’t really compare the two, but I really like it here.”
Ra’anana is in the southern Sharon Plain in the Central District of Israel, the central part of the Israeli coastal plain. Not only is Israel's geography different from the United States, but is also the official language.
“The biggest challenge for me to overcome was language,” Garzon said, “Just knowing how to talk to people and be around people is different than back home… It’s an adjustment.”
Hebrew is not the only piece of Israel Garzon carries with her in America. Ra’anana consists of mostly Israeli Jews. Garzon identifies as a member of the Jewish faith as well.
“On this team we don’t really focus on religion,” Garzon said. “We all respect each other and what we believe in and honestly, I just feel really comfortable. I don’t really feel any difference, I just feel like I fit in.”
Garzon has been successful on the court since she began in college. Garzon was a Second Team All-Big East and named the Co-Most Improved Player in 2021-22. Now with OSU, Garzon has played in all 30 games, and is the first player off the Cowgirls’ bench.
For Garzon, when she shoots, it means more than scoring. She said it's a testament to the morals and faith she follows that have shaped her.
“Basketball is everything,” Garzon said, “It’s what I’m doing all day every day. It’s basically my life right now.”