Maud Ranger of Paris, France, spoke none too kindly about the English language when she arrived in America as a foreign exchange student during her sophomore year of high school.
She was supposed to be a freshman.
“They didn’t really understand my French transcript,” she said, referring to Anaheim’s Fairmont Prep. “They thought I was already in my second year of high school.
“My English wasn’t very good back then, and I actually didn’t like speaking it at all.”
But Ranger, who became as fluent in the language as she was on the basketball court during four years at Westmont College, will continue her career in another English-speaking country. She has signed to play for Scotland’s Caledonia Pride of the Women’s British Basketball League — the top professional league in Great Britain.
Ranger, who graduated from Westmont last spring with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business, will also pursue a master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh.
“The head coach of the university usually scouts scholar-athletes and happened to find me in his search,” Ranger said. “He then contacted me to ask if I would be interested in pursuing a master’s degree while continuing basketball.
“Given the current lack of job opportunities and my desire to eventually pursue a higher education, I thought it would be the perfect time to do that.”
The Caledonia Pride, the only Scottish team in the WBBL, plays its home games at the University of Edinburgh’s Pleasance Sport Complex and Gym. The league’s other teams are based in England and Wales.
Ranger learned English the hard way during her seven years in America.
“All my classes were in English, whether it was math or history or anything else,” she said. “That definitely helped me learn the language. Having every conversation in English, and having to read everything in English, helped a lot.”
She became an NAIA All-American this last season, making the third team after leading Westmont to the No. 1 seed of the NAIA National Championship Tournament. The event was canceled, however, by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I certainly did not think that I would play for any other team post-Westmont,” Ranger said. “But this was an opportunity that I could not pass up. Continuing basketball at a competitive level while pursuing a degree in a new learning environment is incredibly exciting.
“I am just grateful for the possibility of stepping on a court again given how my senior season ended.”
She and teammate Lauren Tsuneishi were battling for the school record for 3-pointers in a season when the plug was pulled. Both finished with 96, leaving them just two short of the mark of 98 Meghan O’Donogue set in 2006. Ranger and Tsuneishi also finished tied for third in the NAIA with their averages of 3.2 3-pointers per game.
But most astounding, considering Ranger’s height of just 5-foot-7, was how she ranked 12th in the nation with her 10.0 rebounds per game.
Coach Kirsten Moore asked her to play a post position for the first time in her career after the Warriors lost two front-court players before the season even started.
“Maud is the ultimate competitor that worked tirelessly over her career to maximize her capacity as an athlete and inspired her teammates to do the same,” Moore said. “Maud loves the game of basketball as much as anyone I have ever coached, and her sheer joy for competition oozed out of her not just in the big moments on game day, but also in the day-to-day grind of practice and preparation.”
Ranger became the iron woman of the team, averaging a school-record 34.3 minutes per game. She also became just the second Warrior in history to average a double-double, scoring 11.7 points per game to go with her 10.0 rebound average.
Her durability became crucial for a team that was reduced to just eight players.
“Our program at Westmont as a whole takes pride in how mentally tough we are,” Ranger said. “We have to train all summer long to build up our toughness and then pass a conditioning test.
“Fatigue was not an option.”
The Maud Squad, which compiled a win-loss record of 27-3, had actually gotten stronger as the year progressed. The Warriors were in the midst of a 14-game winning streak when the season ended. They beat The Master’s 76-67 in their final game to win the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament championship.
Ranger, the team’s lone senior, became the first Warrior to ever play for four GSAC Tournament championship teams.
“We are going to miss Maud so much,” Moore said. “But I am excited for her new coaches and teammates who will undoubtedly be positively impacted by her skills on the court, as well as her love for the game and her investment in caring for her teammates.
“I am confident that her time as a Warrior has prepared her for success in this new endeavor and I am excited to watch it unfold even though she will be an ocean away.”
She will bring back much to Europe from her Westmont experience.
“What I learned from playing sports and studying at Westmont, which can be so tough, is that you have to learn how to adapt,” Ranger said. “But the good thing is that you don’t have to adapt alone.
“There were always so many people helping me here.”
And that translates well in any language.