Friday, September 9, 2011

My First Season Abroad: "Do You Want to Go to Italy?"

Looking down onto Lake Como (my destination for my 1st season in Europe!).
  I've been blogging for just over a week, and I've received my very first blog request. Sometimes it never hurts to ask! After all, your audience can have great input and guidance. And no one knows  what they want to read about better than the reader.

  When you have 12 different topics swirling around in your head, and a blank page staring back at you, there's no better feeling than receiving a little direction!

  So I'm going with what's requested, and ironically, what's familiar. (Note to readers: if there IS anything you want to hear about, please let me know and I'll do my best to make it happen!)

  A friend told me she'd like to hear what it was like going to play in Europe my first season. As I did earlier this week, I am going to break this up into two entries.

  First, I want to provide some background on the process of how you come to sign a contract, and how chaotic it can be.

2003 CU Grads. With Laps & Kate
  As I mentioned in an earlier blog (Following Your Passion), immediately after graduating from Colorado, I signed a contract with an agent. The hope was that, Paco (my agent), would find me a fabulous first job, and my career as a professional basketball player would be off and running.

  Now, I surely didn't resemble a superstar in college, so there was some doubt whether or not my career would ever get off the ground. But I remained confident in my ability, and tried to stay patient as the process played out.

  Staying patient, I found, was the hardest thing to do. Essentially, once you sign with an agent, you lose all control and power. You put all your trust into your agent, and his ability to sell you as a player. So, you workout on your own, and you wait for the phone to ring.

  Usually, European seasons start at the end of September. And you're required to be there roughly a month in advance for training camp (these details depend on your club, the country, and your contract).

Beautiful Como - Duomo in the background.
  September came and went, and that phone call didn't come. Paco would email or call me with updates, but he was coming up empty so far. Sometimes teams don't want to take a chance on a rookie. Or sometimes they want to hold out for a player with WNBA experience.

  There are a million different reasons why you might not get a contract.

  As the days ticked off the calendar, I got more and more nervous. What would I do if I didn't get a contract offer? The idea hadn't really crossed my mind. You're trained as an athlete to have the utmost confidence in yourself. So the idea of failing wasn't something that entered your mind on a regular basis.

  Soon mid-October had passed, but I stayed the course. I had faith that something would come along.

  Finally, the phone rang in the middle of the night in late October (I think six or seven days before Halloween). It was Paco. He said to me in broken English (he is French), 'do you want to go to Italy?'

  I had no idea what was going on. It was something like four o'clock in the morning and I was still half asleep, so I said the most-absurd thing back to him, 'I have to think about it, let me call you back.'

  WHAT?! Let me call you back?!?! After hanging up, I realized what a big mistake that might have been. You have waited for almost five months for this phone call, and you tell him you have to think about it?! I immediately called Paco back, and told him that I would go to play in Italy.

  We quickly finished up the business aspect of the contract and figured out the logistics (where exactly I was going to be playing, contract specifics, plane tickets, passport, etc).

  But one thing was certain: I had signed my first professional contract! Finally!

I was able to do a little sightseeing while my visa was being processed.
  Since it was the end of October, the Italian season had already started. That meant things were about to move very quickly for me.

  I had to pack (for essentially seven months), say goodbye to my friends and family, and get an a plane for San Francisco within a matter of days (to get my work visa taken care of).

  After I got my visa at the Italian Consulate in San Francisco, I boarded a plane for Milano on the morning of the 31st.

  Having the last week go by so quickly probably was a blessing in disguise. There was no time to think: 'what the heck am I doing?' 'who am I going to be surrounded by for the next seven months?' 'what's it going to be like going to a place where you don't speak the language?' 'will I be good enough?' etc...etc.
Lake Como.

  There was no time for those thoughts. I just knew that I was about to embark on the exact thing I had wanted to do since I was a little girl.

  Next blog, I'll get to the actual request -- what my first season abroad was like! Hope you all have a great weekend!


  1. Great article, never loose the confidence !