My experience as a rookie playing overseas (in Scotland) has been nothing short of incredible. I am playing the game I love as a career, traveling the world, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, trying new foods and living the life I’ve always dreamed of. This is the most rewarding feeling in the world—knowing that all the hard work I put in has paid off.
All of that sounds amazing—and yes, it is! However, I can’t sit here and say that playing overseas is easy. Being 3,000 miles away from home is not easy. Only being able to talk to family and friends from back home for a short time in a day because of the time difference is difficult. Learning how to live in a different country is challenging because it’s all different. From the money and currency to the language, to the driving on the other side of the road, to the lifestyle in general…it is ALL different.
It gets lonely overseas, but I’ve found that making friendships with your teammates and people in the community makes it easier. I’m lucky to be a part of such a great club that has a great, close-knit team with coaches and staff members who care about you off the court just as much asthey care about you on the court. Playing overseas, especially as a rookie, is an adjustment! You have to be able to adjust your lifestyle and learn how to live in another country. It’s hard, but it has been the best experience of my life so far!
My advice to other rookies or those wanting to play overseas is this:
1. Make sure you LOVE the game and are willing to make sacrifices. Playing overseas is not easy, and you are essentially picking up and moving your life across the country by yourself. If you LOVE it though, it will be WORTH it.
2. Expect to be in the gym a lot! As an overseas basketball player, this is now your job. Don’t be surprised if you have three workouts a day (at inconvenient times too). HINT: to make this transition from college to pro easier, make sure you are fit and in shape before going overseas.
3. Take care of your body! You are responsible for your recovery. Most likely, you won’t have athletic trainers/physio’s available to you 24/7 like in college. To minimize the likelihood of needing a physio, take care of your body. Stretch, recover ice baths, etc. Your body is what is making you your money!
4. On off days or breaks, make sure you get out and explore the country, try new foods, and learn more about the culture! You may only be there for a year, so take full advantage of your time there.
5. Rely on your support system. Your support system, whether it’s family or friends from back home or teammates on your current team will be key when you start to feel homesick.
As a rookie that’s been overseas for just less than 2 months, I’m still learning how to deal with living a different lifestyle than I have for the past 24 years of my life. You have to be able to accept that the overseas life will be different and it will be challenging at times, but it will be rewarding and gratifying also. Stay present and take it day by day. Find things or hobbies that you love outside of basketball to keep you sane and centered.
Spend time with your teammates and explore the country. This is a lifetime experience that I’ll never forget!