Vanguard University is endearingly, if not sometimes mockingly, known for expressing to its students that their story matters. If this is true, then Vanguard students should definitely hear the story of Teslim Idris, an international student playing in his first and final year with the Vanguard Lions Men’s Basketball Team. Teslim, or Tez, as he prefers to be addressed, has had an interesting journey to get to Vanguard, to put it mildly. However, this journey has helped shape and create the man that walks among us every day, a man that students would be remiss to engage.
Teslim Idris was born on November 15, 1992. He grew up in Hackney, East London, England. Tez was raised by his mother and shared a home with two older brothers as well as a younger sister. As a youth, Tez enjoyed playing sports; however, the sport of basketball was not at the top of his list. Tez much preferred soccer to any other sport and was quite the player as well from his telling, “I played midfielder for a while and then I switched to a striker. I was pretty good, but to play and be recruited for football in England, you have to be like, stupid good.” Tez would find out shortly that he was in fact “stupid good” but at something very different.
Tez was focused mainly on soccer until his older brother/coach encouraged him to give basketball a try. He was seventeen years old when he played basketball for the first time, and if his presence at Vanguard and the purpose for which he is here is any indication, the kid was a natural. Tez was a driven and motivated individual who realized after discovering his talent, that he needed to be in a place that would foster and grow his abilities so that he can reach his best basketball. That is when he decided, to put it in his own words, that America was the move. Tez recalls his thinking on the matter, “Time for a change, like Obama said.”
Tez spent the next season of his life doing whatever was possible for him to make it to America to pursue basketball. A helpful factor in this journey was his family, as he has an aunt and uncle who live in Irvine, CA who were more than willing to accommodate and help Tez on his quest to make a life from basketball.
Tez had done all of the necessary procedures and steps in order to make his American dream come true. He flew out to Irvine and enrolled in high school. Everything was fantastic until he got some disappointing news. Because Tez enrolled into a public high school instead of a private institution of learning, his paperwork was classified under the category of a “visitor”. Essentially, Tez had a total of 3 months before he had to return to England. This saddened him, but he knew he would be back.
After playing basketball for two more years and attending school at his academy in England, Tez received an offer from a private six-month preparatory school in Tampa Bay, Florida, and soon was back in the states. This began a journey that would see Tez traveling all across the country, either to visit schools or to play for them. He traveled to Florida, Montana, Georgia, Illinois and received interest from many other schools in other states for him to go and play with their programs.
Tez wanted to be a Division-1 college basketball player, however his status as an international student brought many hindrances to that dream. So during his final season at Savannah State University in Savannah, Georgia, Tez made a decision that he was going to play wherever God had intended him to play. Returning to California for the summer, Tez was entertaining offers from three different California schools: Concordia, Cal Poly Pomona and Vanguard. After all three of the Vanguard coaches received gleaming reports on Tez from three different sources, they knew Tez was someone they just had to have.
Tez sat down with Rhett Soliday, the head Men’s Basketball coach and new athletic director for Vanguard Athletics and explained that as much as he would love to play for Vanguard, the fact was that he needed to be able to afford school and graduate. Coach Soliday heard Tez’s voice and came through with a full ride scholarship, enabling Tez to not worry about anything but basketball and classes. Tez spoke on how he feels he was being looked out for by God through this whole endeavor, “Maybe it was designed for me to go here, maybe it was all part of His plan.”
Having an individual like Tez on campus is a delight for any of those who have the fortune of meeting him. Humble, friendly and always positive, Tez has much to offer Vanguard this year and not just on the basketball court. Tez even spoke on how he feels humbled by God to even be in this situation, “I have to give glory to God, he made a way for me.”
A talented athlete with an interesting story to say the least, Teslim Idris definitely a student to know. Take the time to engage with this outstanding Vanguardian around campus, and don’t forget to show support for the Men’s Basketball Team when games begin.