COLUMBIA — When Brad Ekwerekwu begins his high school history class in Arlington, Texas, he is often reminded by his students of his days as a wide receiver for Missouri.
“They’re smart enough to get on the Internet and Google me and all that,” he said. “… It’s fun. We take a couple minutes a day, and they tell me what they found out.”
When Ekwerekwu hears about his playing days, he has a comeback prepared to get the class on task.
“I just laugh and say, ‘Hey, that’s great. You know, maybe you’ll spend as much time studying into European history now,’” Ekwerekwu said.
Ekwerekwu, who finished with 95 catches for 956 yards in 44 games at Missouri from 2003 to 2006, was back in Columbia on Sunday, sporting an Oklahoma Sooners cap in support of his sister Francie Ekwerekwu, a sophomore middle blocker for the Oklahoma volleyball team.
“I love Mizzou,” Francie Ekwerekwu said. “This is my first college experience, coming to his games and stuff. So, every time I come here, it’s exciting.”
Francie Ekwerekwu said she tries to talk to her brother every day.
“He gives me advice through hard times and stuff,” she said. “Because he knows what it’s like to go through college athletics. And, I don’t know. He supports me 100 (percent). When he comes here to see us play, he supports OU, not Mizzou.”
When the brother and sister talk, it’s not always a serious conversation about being a college athlete.
“We start with some jokes,” Francie Ekwerekwu said. “We like to have fun in my family, so we’ll start with if hear a funny joke or something funny that happened to us that day, we’ll start off by laughing.”
Brad Ekwerekwu said he only provides advice to his sister when she asks for it. He wants her to handle her experiences herself.
“Honestly, Francie has trailblazed a lot herself,” Brad Ekwerekwu said. “I have taken a hands-off approach, just wait for her to come to me. If she has things that she needs advice about, then I’ll advise her.”
Francie Ekwerekwu said she and her brother are very different, so she doesn’t give him much advice on his current endeavors.
“He’s very mathematical, very into the finance world,” she said. “I’m more the English, writing, creative stuff. So he knows what he’s doing with the job world and that particular subject.”
Francie Ekwerekwu is majoring in human relations and psychology. She is considering sports psychology or social work as possible careers. Her brother was a finance major at Missouri but found that now wasn’t the best time to go into finance. So he ended up taking the job as a history teacher at The Oakridge School.
“It was just an opportunity that presented itself,” Brad Ekwerekwu said. “They needed a longtime teacher, a long-term teacher. I fell into it, and I’ve been there ever since.”
On the volleyball court, Sunday wasn’t Francie Ekwerekwu’s best day. She had five kills as Missouri swept Oklahoma 25-15, 25-17, 25-20 at Hearnes Center. Junior outside hitter Lauren Nuckolls led the Tigers with 19 kills. Nuckolls, who has not played at all in some other matches, said she knew she would get to play against Oklahoma. Usually assistant coach Deng Yang approaches her before a match if Nuckolls is going to play. This week, she found out in practice.
“I kind of had a bigger clue that I was going to play,” Nuckolls said.
Nuckolls’ performance helped Missouri balance its offense.
“It takes a lot of pressure off everyone I think,” sophomore outside hitter Julianna Klein said. “Knowing that somebody else is up there, just being aggressive and swinging at every ball, her getting, what, 19 kills, that’s huge.”
Missouri is 12-12 and 6-8 in Big 12 Conference play. Its next match is at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Nebraska.