By Brad Cox
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Texas A&M sophomore guard Andrew Darko never wants to leave the sports arena.
When the construction science major’s playing days are over, he wants to build the facilities where his children and other's children will play.
“I want to get into contracting,” Darko said about his post-collegiate career. “I want to eventually get my own contracting firm and be able to build stadiums, major sports stadiums.”
Darko has traveled many miles in search of his goal. He was born in South Africa in 1989 and when he was young his family moved to Canada in search of job prospects. His mother Sussie attended nursing school and his father was training in construction. Darko remembers his parents' desire to improve their careers.
Darko’s father played soccer and that sport was passed along to his son. Basketball didn't enter the picture until the Darkos moved to the United States in 1996.
“I didn’t really pick up basketball until I came down here,” Darko said. "I watched the Chicago Bulls play the Seattle SuperSonics in the [NBA] Finals. That’s probably when I fell in love with basketball.
"(In Canada) everything is based on hockey. Hockey, soccer, there’s really no basketball culture in Canada, especially where we lived. When we lived in Toronto, we didn’t have the Raptors. When we were in Edmonton, everything we did was Edmonton Oilers as far as sports goes.”
Once in the United States, Darko bought into the basketball culture that surrounded him. He got the shoes, the goal in the driveway and everything that came with it. When Darko was in the sixth grade, his family moved to Conroe, Texas.
“Basketball was just one of those things I had to do,” Darko said. “I was always enthused with basketball so when I had the opportunity to play in junior high and high school with Conroe, that was pretty special. We had some good teams and some good players.”
Darko was a two-time All-District selection at Conroe, averaging 18.1 points his senior year. Though he was recruited by smaller schools to play basketball, Darko said his education was more important.
His older brother, David, is a senior engineering technology major at A&M. Darko said he’s always looked up to his brother, so being at the school was a major factor in his choice.
While his college education was his No. 1 priority, Darko still had the desire to play basektball. He made the A&M team last season as a walk on.
“Since I started watching basketball, started falling in love with it, basketball has just been a part of my life,” said Darko, a 6-foot sophomore guard. “After high school I decided I wasn’t done playing yet and I felt like I needed to be a part of basketball.
"I couldn’t see myself sitting at home or coming to games and thinking ‘I could be a part of that program.’ I just wanted to continue playing.”
As a freshman in 2007-08, Darko played in five games, scoring one field goal in nine minutes of play. In his sophomore season, he has seen action in six games and has scored four points.
Though he does not get to play as much as he would like, Darko said he accepts his role on the team.
“Being a basketball player and the competitor that I am you always want to get more minutes,” Darko said. “Right now, my main goal is to help this team win whatever way I can. There are a lot of guys on this team who are in my situation. Our role is to help the team any way we can, even if it’s not getting minutes on the court.”