Hey friends, greeting from sunny, warm Adelaide!
This is the first time I didn’t have to pack winter boots or a coat for an overseas basketball contract. Instead, I packed three swimsuits!
This year I am playing in my 6th professional season overseas in Adelaide, Australia, for the Adelaide Lightning. I’ve been here less than a month and so far Australia has been nothing short of amazing! You know how they say Canadians are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet? Well, Australians just might have us beat!
The human body and its ability to heal itself is simply amazing! For those of you who are new here, 7 weeks ago I was playing basketball for team Canada when I tore my MCL in an exhibition game. You can read all about it in my blog here. Well, when I first arrived to Adelaide, Australia I was wearing a brace, couldn’t do moves laterally, couldn’t lunge without pain, and couldn’t bend my knee for extended periods of time. I was sidelined during practices and games, cheering on my teammates and itching to join them on the court. It’s been seven weeks and after lots of (practicing) patience, physio, game ready icing and more rest than I cared for, I was back to playing 5 on 5 full contact basketball with my team this week!
As my knee was healing and getting stronger I was living in the weight room. I was working on gaining back strength, working on my mobility, improving my balance and doing low impact conditioning (boxing). It’s amazing to me how time really does heal the body. This week while I was at the gym doing a lift session and I was joyfully laughing to myself while I was doing barbell lunges. I could barely do a body weight lunge three weeks ago without pain, now I can do them with added weight. My knee is feeling good and getting healthy, and now the only part of my body that hates me these days are my lungs. You can do all the extra workouts in the world, but nothing gets you into basketball playing shape like playing basketball. So feel free to say a prayer for my lungs over the next couple weeks while I fight to get my conditioning back! It’s a good problem to have; it means I’m able to play, so I’m not complaining!
When I landed in Adelaide I was excited to see my former San Antonio teammate Nia Coffey! She along with the team manager, Reece, picked me up from the airport and helped me with my bags. As I was making my way to the right side of the car, Reece tells me I’m going to the wrong side. You guys, the driver sits on the right side of the car! But thats not even the best part, they drive on the left side of the road here!
The team provides us with sponsored cars since our training facilities are not walking distance of where we live. That meant that I needed to adjust to driving in Australia ASAP. Thankfully one of my roommates and teammates, Colleen, offered to take me out for a practice drive the day I landed. After a while, driving on the left side, turning left on a red light, not turning right on a red light and looking to my right before I pulled into the street became second nature. The hardest part for me was signaling. In North America and even when I was driving (very briefly) in France (you can read about my attempt at driving standard here), when you go to flip your turn signal lights, it’s located on the left side of the steering wheel. In Australia, its located on the right side. So for a good week every time I went to signal to change lanes, I turned my windshield wipers on. Although it does still happen occasionally, for the most part I have that under control now thank goodness!
The first beach I went to in Adelaide was Glenelg. Those who know me well know how much I absolutely adore the water. If I could live near the ocean when I eventually settle down, that would be my slice of heaven on earth. Every time I look at the ocean I am in complete awe of God and his creation. The different shades of blues, the calming sounds of the crashing waves, and the endless water line that blends into the sky. The ocean is both beautifully striking and terrifying at the same time, it demands respect, wonder and awe - just like its creator.
When I first went into the water, it was still pretty cold, which made for the perfect ice baths after practice. Right near the beach there is also this hub on Jetty Road full of cool buildings, hotels and endless food options. Its a great place to visit solo or with friends.
While I was still unable to play the team flew out of town for a game, so a teammate, Jordan (who also didn’t travel) joined me for a hike along Hallet Cove. It was a walking trail, although we encountered many runners, that ran parallel to the shore. Our journey started with us walking along the rocks on the shore, then lots of stairs, dirt trails and pathways. We were out there for about two hours walking, chatting, taking pictures and enjoying the view. We even got to catch the sunset!
When my teammate Colleen told me that she knew of a fun hike that consisted of a great workout, seeing kangaroos up close and personal, amazing views and a secluded beach, I was all in! She actually learned of this place because of my teammate and friend Ruth Hamblin (we played on team Canada together and she played for Adelaide lightning last year). Hey Ruth!
Deep Creek is about an hour and fifteen minute drive from where we were in Adelaide. On our way, around the half way mark, we stopped at a popular bakery for lunch. It was there that I was able to eat my first Australian meat pies! With the first one I went safe and got a chicken and vegetable pie, it was pretty good. Next, I got a steak and mushroom pie and it was delicious! I need to find a bakery near my house that makes them.
When we arrived to Deep Creek Conservation Park, Colleen couldn’t quite remember which way we had to go in order to get to the secluded beach. Driving around lost allowed us to see beautiful mountain views of the ocean, take some fun pictures and we even encountered a blue-tongued lizard!
When we finally reached our destination, thanks to a friendly older Australian couple, I was blown away. First, there were so many kangaroos! Male, female, joeys, just hopping around freely in their environment, it was so cool to see!
As we hiked down the trail I realized how in shape and coordinated you had to be. It was a pretty steep hill with a dirt trail. We had to walk through trees and branches, and I noticed that every so often they had resting spots with benches (which we needed to use on our way back up the hill). On certain parts of the trail I noticed that it would be entirely possible to slip and go rolling off the side of the mountain which added a bit of thrill to the hike. When we eventually made it down the mountain, it opened up to a beautiful secluded lake, and once again, it felt like heaven on earth. I think I took close to 200 pictures on this hike, yet the pictures don’t even do justice to how gorgeous the views were. We laid out on the beach for a bit, went into the water (legs only as it was chilly that day), and climbed a large rock mountain. I don’t do heights and was too chicken (I know my limits) so I only hiked half way up. Meanwhile my teammates Colleen, Claire, Noodle (thats her nickname) and her fiancé Cody, climbed to the top. But, even from where I was the view was pretty darn nice!
When it was time to head back home, we started making the hike back up the mountain. We had to stop several times along the way to catch our breath. I was definitely out of shape and breathing harder than I would like to admit. Thankfully, that day it was cooler out so we didn’t have the sun beating down on us, which made the hike more manageable. Although it was a major workout that I felt in my calves, glutes and lungs, it was so worth it. I am hoping to make another trip down there when my sister, Kesia comes to visit me!
So far, Adelaide has been absolutely wonderful. I’m healing, and am able to get back to playing the sport I love. I am surrounded by wonderful teammates, roommates and coaching staff who make going to practice, workouts and back home so enjoyable. I am able to see another side of the world and experience more of Gods beautiful creation.
I am thankful, I am happy, I am blessed!
If I could leave this blog with one piece of advice, it would be to go out and travel! Get on a plane and go to a new country, open up your eyes to a new way of life, new views, cultures and people. If you can’t afford to hop on a plane, catch a bus to a new city, or town, see how people are living outside your community. And if that is too time consuming, then even in your own community, go do something you haven’t done before. Go to a park, try a new food, try a different activity, do something outside your normal routine! It will do your soul good. After all, some of the best experiences happen right outside your comfort zone!
Until my next Australian update, thanks for stopping by and God bless!
P.S. Follow me on Instagram @kjalexan40 to see my daily Australian adventures, I often post on my Instagram story!
Kindly edited by Kesia Alexander