This year during the offseason I wanted to go somewhere where I could play a short season, and still have some time off at home to rest my body before the start of the 2018 WNBA season. I had discussed it with my agent and we decided that I would put my name into the Korean Women's Basketball League (KWBL) draft. If I was selected, great, and if not I would finally get that much needed time off I desperately needed.
Well I ended up getting drafted to play for the Samsung Blue Minx. So after my vacation with my sister, I would have a little bit of down time before I was off to play my fifth season of basketball overseas, boy does time fly!
Hanging with my teammates!
While there I had to make a lot of adjustments. The time change was definitely the hardest, 14 hour difference! It took my body 2 weeks to properly adjust to the time change, way longer than I expected! Language barriers are nothing new to me, as I had plenty of experience with this in Russia, however, in Russia the letters were similar to the English alphabet. In Korea, its completely different, it was symbols, and complicated symbols at that! My apartment also didn't have an oven. I learned that in Korea they cook mostly over the stove. So I taught myself how to make pan seared salmon... Now whether it was as great as my baked salmon is another question, but it was edible!
team meal, authentic Korean food, delicious!
Basketball wise, I had some adjusting to do. The way I play and the way my new coach wanted me to play were two different styles, and as a result I was getting frustrated. What I love about basketball is the fact that there is always a new skill to learn, a new way to improve and ultimately better my game. I'm constantly learning while playing this sport and I love it. However, I quickly realized that at this particular time, I was not the best fit for this team. As much as I respected and liked our coach, I felt like I wasn’t given the opportunity to play and show him what I was capable of doing.
In Korea they have a rule where only one American can play on the floor at a time, except for during the third quarter when we can play together. Each team is also only allowed two foreigners per team. As a result, for most of the season I only saw action in the third quarter! Obviously, I wasn't happy and like I mentioned I was frustrated. Keep in mind, I've gone through experiences when I didn't get much playing time, where I had a lot of learning and growing to do. This time around though, I didn't see the point in being half way across the world, away from my family, miserable, and barely playing just for a paycheque. It wasn't worth the money to me. And then things got worse. My grandmother fell down the stairs, broke her hip, collar bone and shoulder, and needed surgery. Plus with her dementia, the overall situation was not looking good. So, for the first time in my playing career, I asked if I could leave the team to return home and be with my family. Thankfully, the team and coach were more than understanding and I left on great terms. I am thankful to them for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of their team, but also thankful they allowed me to return home and be with my grandmother.
korean bbq, delicious!
I am now using this free time, time that I haven't had in years, to train, get stronger and work on my game. It has been the best decision I have made and I have no regrets. I love playing basketball and living overseas playing, however time off was well overdue. I've been playing nonstop from college to the WNBA to Overseas and back for 9 years now, so I am going to take full advantage of this precious time. My time in South Korea also taught me two very important life lessons. The first, to listen to my body. I was mentally and physically exhausted after playing in France (that was a long season). I had one day off at home after my France season ended before I reported back to San Antonio. I was tired and my body needed rest, and I shouldn’t have asked for an overseas contract until after Christmas. If I am being honest, I let money motivate me, which brings me to lesson number two. Never let money motivate me to do something I wouldn’t do if money wasn’t a factor. I let money motivate me to try and play through fatigue and it left me frustrated, mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted and most of all depressed. It was a hard lesson to learn but I am glad I learned it, because I will never make that mistake again.
sight seeing seoul!
Before I left South Korea I had the opportunity to sight see in Seoul. Although my playing experience in Korea may not have been the best, I loved my teammates, the coaching staff, my awesome translator and the experience of living in South Korea. The food is amazing, especially Korean barbecue (oh my word, so good!) If you ever get the chance to travel to South Korea take full advantage, its a great country and the people are incredibly warm and polite. And of course, be sure to take in a KWBL game while you're there…preferably a Blueminx game!
Thanks for stopping by, and God bless!