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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | SOUTHLAND FOCUS / A Look at
the day that was and at what lies ahead at the Summer
Games

He Took Long Way Home

July 21, 1996|CHRIS DUFRESNE

The Nicaraguan baseball coach speaks with a funny English accent.

The reason? He's from Statesboro, Ga.

Darin Van Tassel, 29, an assistant coach at Georgia Southern University, took over the team last month when the Nicaraguan sports federation asked him to save a sinking ship. Van Tassel had stepped in before, in 1994, leading the team to a fourth-place finish at the World Championships.

Van Tassel's influence was evident Saturday, as Nicaragua stayed close in a 4-1 defeat by the United States. The U.S. team had outscored Nicaragua, 47-11, during a four-game sweep earlier this year.

Van Tassel doesn't think he's a turncoat. In fact, playing in his home state against the USA made him "doubly thrilled."

Van Tassel doesn't speak much Spanish, but says that's not a problem.

"Language is not a barrier," he said.

In baseball, of course, there is always the universal language--spitting.

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