BILLINGS — Luc Lombardy and Domenica Gomes traveled a combined 11,000 miles from their respective hometowns to play basketball in tiny Powell, Wyoming. Today, they're still traveling across the world for love of the game, and each other.
Lombardy and Gomes found their way into the same classroom at Northwest College and have been inseparable ever since.
"He needed to do more homework, but he didn't know how to do it," said Gomes, who arrived in Powell from Brazil. "So my teacher told me, 'Can you help him?' And I said, 'Yes, of course. Let's go.'"
Not long after that fateful day, the two got engaged outside a Billings restaurant. Last month, they celebrated their first wedding anniversary, though not quite like they planned.
"Crazy story - we celebrated in the airport, because it was the date we came to France," said Gomes, now Domenica Lombardy.
Today, the couple lives in a town called Nevers in central France, Luc's home country. Domenica's season with a professional team in Brazil was about to get under way back in March when the pandemic put everything on hold. Soon after, the country became one of the biggest COVID-19 hotspots in the world, so the two decided it was time to leave everything behind, including Domenica's family.
"We were together in the same house over there, but we talked together, they say it's better to go to France, because you have a professional life there," Domenica said.
Case numbers continue to fall in Europe, and life is beginning to open back up, including pro basketball, where the pair thinks it's found its next step.
"We're 99 percent sure of signing here in France," said Luc. "The lifestyle (here) is really good. We can practice outside, the gym reopened. We can practice, work out, and prepare for the next season."
That's been their M.O. since the two left Powell: one season at a time, all in search of keeping their dreams alive.
"At Sophomore Night, when the guy said where we'd go, our dream for the next season, we wanted to be pro basketball players," Domenica explained.
"We are young, so we can adapt to the country and situation," Luc added. "For me, I want to take a lot of experience and Domenica, the same."
The two began their pro careers in Spain before moving to Domenica's homeland in 2019 to get married and continue playing. Luc thrived, especially his Portugese. Now, it's Domenica's turn to learn her partner's native language.
"J'ai par le Francais," Domenica exclaimed with a smile. "He speaks Portugese very well, he talks to my family. Me, I keep learning French because it's complicated for me, so I write some words down. I try to study at home on a computer. Every day I grow a little bit."
The pandemic and Father Time, though, have the globetrotters now thinking about the future.
"We want to keep our life here in France, a secure country, because he knows everything here, and begin our family here," Domenica said.
"We talk a lot about this, that's what we figured out," said Luc. "I think it's time to begin a family, begin putting a base somewhere."
And eventually, returning to the tiny Wyoming base that brought them together.
"Yes, with our kids, when we begin something together," the two shared.
Anyone who has ever met the Lombardys knows they already have.