EMS basketball star shares connection with head coach
Eastern Mennonite School senior Aviwe Mahlong has made the most of his time as a prep basketball player in the Shenandoah Valley.
With Mahlong leading the way, EMS earned back-to-back VISAA Division III state runner-up finishes in 2019 and 2020.
"I just wanted to come here and work hard and kind of get my name out there and it's just been great," said Mahlong. "It's been crazy."
Mahlong's success in the Valley comes after he moved to the United State from his native South Africa. He was playing with an international team at an AAU event in Pennsylvania when he met EMS head coach Chad Seibert, who also serves as an AAU coach.
"We chatted for like 30 seconds and I can't really remember what we talked about but I didn't really think anything of it and kind of just went about my day and like next thing you know I was flying all the way to America to go to school at Eastern Mennonite," said Mahlong.
Seibert added: "We were able to make it happen where he could get a visa and he applied at Eastern Mennonite and got accepted, he came here and it's been a huge impact on my life, my family's life, our school."
Under Seibert's direction, Mahlong developed into one of the best high school basketball players in the Shenandoah Valley. But the star player and coach have a relationship that extends beyond the court. Mahlong lives with Seibert and his family.
"You know I always wanted a son, for sure, we stopped at two (kids) and I ended up with two girls and I could not be happier about that," said Seibert. "But if I did have a son, it probably could not be anymore like me than he is."
With his high school career over, Mahlong is now preparing to play college basketball at Millersville University, an NCAA Division II program in Pennsylvania. But while Mahlong will move away from Harrisonburg, he will always share a special connection with the Valley and his high school head coach.
"It's been great," said Mahlong. "It's life-changing."