Roehampton Basketball

I’m dedicating this post to the amazing friends I’ve made since I joined the Roehampton Women’s Basketball team! I know you guys are fans of this blog… so here’s your shout out (ANGELIKA cough cough).

Thinking back to my first few practices with the team, I can easily say that we have made so much progress throughout the season. There are a few moments that I will always remember about playing Roehampton basketball, the first being our first win of the season. It was Roehampton’s first win in a LONG time (according to some of the returning players) and we played St. George’s, a school near Tooting in southwest London, winning 95-26. Obviously, the other team didn’t have much talent at all, but I was still really proud of our girls for doing their best and playing seriously the whole time. Coach Kenny pushed us to win by as much as we could because there aren’t too many opportunities like that in the league we play in, and in the past apparently other teams have won games by an even bigger margin (ouch). While I felt a bit uncomfortable taking that much of a lead, we did the best we could on practicing aspects of the game we needed to work on (spreading the court, cutting on offense, help defense) and didn’t think too much about the score. The win was very refreshing, especially for the girls who have been playing for a few years, and we rode the bus home with good spirits.

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The other memorable moment was the very last game of the semester… when I got to experience something in a basketball game that I’ve never done before. I believe we were playing Surrey University and we had the lead the entire game (up by maybe 12 to 15 points at parts). However, the away team started making a comeback in the last quarter and made it a tight game. With about 10 seconds left, the other team made a cross-court pass to a girl going long for a layup, putting them up by 2 points. As the clock ticked down, we inbounded the ball and a few passes were made until I ended up with the ball in my hands at half court as everyone started counting “3… 2… 1” I dribbled a few times and threw the ball up towards the basket right over half court while two defenders ran at me. The ball sunk right into the hoop and the girls knocked me down on the floor. That was the last I saw for about 3 minutes as my entire team, and the boys team who were watching, piled on top of me screaming and shaking me. I was curled up in a ball on the court with my eyes closed and all these people freaking out about the shot. After a few minutes, the referees got everyone off the court because I had to shoot a foul shot (which I completely forgot about), and ended up missing because I was so shaken up (literally). I can easily say that was one of the highlights of my entire basketball career and my experience abroad. We won by a point. I felt like crying from excitement right after that. It was an incredible feeling. If I took that shot another thirty times, I don’t know if I’d make even one of them again. But the fact that the ball went in that time was just completely awesome. I really felt like a superstar for a second there.

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Not only was my involvement in basketball an excellent way to work out for me, but I never realized how much of a social aspect it has in my life. I’ve been playing basketball since maybe second grade (around 7 years old) and over the years I have gained lifetime friends from the sport. I am beyond thankful to my parents for getting me involved in a sport that I could play for many years in my life, and it is truly something I enjoy doing. I know that I made the decision to not play basketball in a possible D3 college, which I definitely do not regret, but I still have my club basketball team back at UNCW, and my teammates at Roehampton for those three months. So thank you dad (he will love this shout out). You’ve pushed me throughout the years to be the best player that I could be, and you were and always will be my number one fan (and number one critic), but I love you for it.

Basketball at Roehampton has helped me gain so many more friends (from both the girls and guys teams) and it was a way to get my mind off of school and other worries and just go play on the court. I loved that I could look forward to practices throughout the week, and games on Wednesday afternoons. I could work on improving more of the fundamentals during the girls’ practices, and loved running and keeping in shape when playing with the guys (who treat me like one of them, and don’t go easy on me when I’m playing)! I had told some of the girls that we needed to have another social or get-together for some team bonding… I even suggested a “psych party” like my team did in high school where everyone brings something to contribute to a team dinner (like an appetizer, drinks, or desserts) the night before a big game. So at the very end of the season, we had a goodbye get together for me and Aina (another international student from Catalonia). Both the girls and guys teams went roller-skating at a campus social and after that we went back to the girls’ flat for pizza and games. I am so grateful for all the teammates who came to our going away party and appreciate the gifts you guys got me and Aina. I appreciate you guys more than you know. You all helped me grow not only as a basketball player, but as a person. I learned so much from you and I am so thankful to have met each and every one of you Roehampton basketball players. We had our ups and downs during the season, but I wouldn’t change anything! I’ll really miss you all. Please keep me updated on the next term and I wish you all the best of luck! Cheers!

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Update!

It is currently Sunday afternoon, and I sit here writing this post as I lounge in my pajamas, hair in a huge messy bun, eating my yogurt and granola breakfast while leisurely sipping on my hot English breakfast tea (so delicious). Life is pretty good when you get to sleep in!

It’s been a little while week since I last posted about my whereabouts (sorry) so I’ll just give some basic updates as to what I’ve been up to…

The past two weeks did not consist of any super special adventures or explorations, but I have been doing a few fun things! I go to class three days a week, for about three hours at a time, so you can just imagine all the free time I have to do whatever I want! On the two days I have class in the morning, I usually just come back after and take a nice long nap (a necessity for every college student). I actually can’t believe how much I really do sleep here. I do admit that I like to go to sleep pretty late (sorry mom, I know you’re not a fan of that), but the fact that I can sleep until almost one in the afternoon is pretty ridiculous! However, don’t think that I spend all my time here sleeping and going to class… I’ve been doing a few other things with my life too!

I am officially a member of the Roehampton Women’s Basketball team now, and we practice two nights a week (Mondays and Fridays), and have games on most Wednesdays. If you have read my previous posts on the trials and taster session, I was a little discouraged when it first began. However, I’m really enjoying playing now that the final team has been made and we have a coach (Kenny) who comes to lead practices with drills and actual structure. While I am one of the better ones, there are a few girls who actually know how to play and that was a huge relief. The girls on the team are all very welcoming and friendly. Most of them are from England, but we do also have a girl named Aina from Barcelona, Spain, and a girl named Stella from Greece. I’m the only American but it’s cool to be playing with girls from other countries! Aina and I are only here for the term, and the girls constantly complain about us leaving in December and beg to us to stay longer (it’s nice to be wanted)! Not only have I been playing twice a week with the girls, but Coach Kenny has also allowed me and two or three other girls to practice with the men’s team after ours is over on Monday nights. They also practice on Tuesdays (when the girls have off), so I went to that practice last week as well. The men’s team is pretty good and has a lot of really athletic guys, so playing with them is a big challenge for me. But I am so thrilled to be getting back into shape, and working on improving my skills with guys since they are pretty intense. The guys practice is a lot harder than the girls; Kenny runs them a lot more, and I’m dead tired after it’s over… but nothing is better than that feeling of having a great workout. I was really sore the days after those practices, but it was definitely worth it! The other thing that is great about their practices is that they really do accept the few girls who want to train with them. A lot of them have confidence in me to keep up with them and play… which I love! We also had a social about a week and a half ago where some of the girls and guys from the team went bowling. We all played two games and divided up teams so the girls and guys got to know each other. The night was really fun because I got to know some of the players pretty well and it was good bonding time for the teams. I hope we get to do something like that again soon!

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The men’s and women’s teams also had our first “friendly” games (AKA scrimmages) this past Wednesday against another local school called Kingston. We didn’t have too much practice time before this game came up, so we couldn’t really run any plays and had to improvise a bit. Kingston was a really competitive team, and got a big lead in the beginning of the game. I was a little frustrated with how our team started out, but the second half was really competitive and we made an awesome comeback. My team ended up losing by about 10-15 points in the end, but I was definitely pleased to see an improvement by everyone as the game went on! The guys played after our game was over, and it was so much fun to watch. Even though it was only considered a “friendly” (or scrimmage), there was a decent turn out for spectators who came to watch, and the cheering got really intense between fans. The game went into overtime and the guys ended up losing by one, unfortunately. Honestly, I think both of our teams could beat Kingston, and I’m really excited to get to play them again in the regular season!

Besides basketball, the other part of my social life consists mainly of hanging out in Newman with my fourth floor friends. Some of us watch movies together and make food and just hang out in general. My own flat is really quiet and the girls really like to keep to themselves, so I just have to deal with where I’ve been placed and venture out of this building to actually have some human interaction. However, the other day Mayte (my flatmate from Spain) posted a proposal for a flat dinner on the fridge and everyone seemed interested so we may do that sometime in the next week or so. I’ll definitely post on how that turns out. When I’m here in my flat, I like to chill out and keep in touch with friends… which I’m doing a pretty good job with! I love the people who really make an effort to see how I’m doing, and I really do miss things about Wilmington (such as the warmth, beach, dining hall, and PEOPLE there). When I’m not Skyping or Facebook chatting anyone, I’ve been watching the show New Girl online. I started watching from season one about a week ago, and I’m already caught up to the most recent episode as of last night. That show is SO good. I love/want to be Zooey Deschanel! Now to find yet another show to start watching… any suggestions?

This past Friday night (10/12) was another Bop dance with a “commando” theme, which basically meant camouflage/army-like style… no, it did not mean wear no underwear (haha)! Having missed the Bop before that one, I was pretty excited to go out and have a good time. Even though I do not own any army-like clothes, I managed to try and somewhat fit the theme with a little face paint, a green shirt/jacket (thanks Eliza), and combat boots. Not too shabby for a last minute outfit. The night ended up being really fun as we danced to tons of American music and mingled at the bar and on the deck with friends. The night ended with devouring a “Bop burger,” which is what we call the burgers that we can buy for three pounds from a little burger booth right outside of the Student Union where Bop is held. It’s a pretty smart idea if you ask me. I was starving by 2 AM!Image

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Yesterday (10/13), Raleigh, Eliza and I woke up and took a 20 minute walk to Barnes, a local town right down the road from Roehampton. Barnes isn’t too big, but it was the most adorable little town that I’ve seen here so far. On Saturdays from 11-2, there is a little farmer’s market set up right next to a beautiful lake with ducks and swans. We took a walk around the market and looked at all the delicious food the vendors were selling. There were stations for fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade bread, cheese and dips, cookies, cupcakes, freshly squeezed fruit juice… and much more. Obviously, having the enormous sweet tooth that I do, I bought an “American style” chocolate chip cookie from a dessert booth. It was delicious. Raleigh bought a baguette and some pesto and hummus dips to snack on later, and Eliza tried the fresh apple juice from another vendor. To describe the farmer’s market it one word: yum. We continued to walk around a bit outside of the farmer’s market, stood by the pretty lake, and then explored the little town where we came across a few really cute boutiques and thrift shops to browse through. Overall, the afternoon was really nice, especially since the sun was out and shining, and I definitely plan on going back another Saturday to buy more delicious baked goods from the one of the booths!

So that’s my update for now… I think I’ll actually try to be productive with my day today because my classes are starting to pile on the homework and I need to get my brain juices flowing. Maybe it would help if I actually changed out my sweatpants that I slept in. With that being said… it’s time to go! More to come soon.

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First Day of Class & Basketball “Taster”

So after some much needed downtime ALL DAY yesterday (Sunday 9/23), I was somewhat well rested for the first day of class at Roehampton today. I only had one sociology lecture from 10-11 am so Mondays will be one of my easiest days (besides Wednesdays and Fridays when I don’t have class)! The class seems like it will be pretty interesting considering I’ve never taken a sociology course before. However, the course has a few components to it and I will be in class for a total of four hours a week just for that one course. I’m now being convinced by my friends to try and switch that one… I’m considering taking a linguistics class instead that will count towards my English major (we’ll see!). Since my last post about finalizing my classes, a few things have changed. The one I was really excited for (Media City & Cultural Capital) has actually gotten cancelled, forcing me to choose a different class instead. So I went to the Media department today and added another interesting class called Travel, Tourism, and the Media which actually seems really cool. And it’s only from 9-11 am on Tuesday mornings (my only class tomorrow)! On Wednesdays I have no class, but something interesting about Wednesdays at this university is that there are little or no classes offered in the afternoon because it is the travel day (or a practice day) for many of the sports teams here. Thursdays are going to be VERY busy for me, though. I have a sociology lecture from 10-11am, then a sociology seminar 11-1, an hour for lunch, and my Children’s Lit class 2-5 pm. Talk about a headache… I’ll let you know how that day goes because I’m pretty sure my brain will explode.

I’m really excited to have Fridays off in order to have a long week to travel somewhere hopefully a few weekends during the term. My friends and I are starting to look for cheap flights to some other places in Europe. Paris, Dublin, Bremen, and Edinburgh are all on my potential travel list. But I’m definitely going to make a huge effort to go visit my roommate, Taylor, who is studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain! My dream is to make it to Rome and Florence, but I’m not sure how feasible that is (especially if I’m trying to save my money).  If anyone has any suggestions on cheap travelling possibilities, PLEASE let me know! 🙂

As for the rest of my day after class… I fixed my schedule and went back to sleep for a while. As of last night, I haven’t been feeling too well (throat and head hurt a little) so I think I may be getting a cold. I’m not too surprised because after that crazy Freshers Week, my immune system probably isn’t the strongest. So I’ve been catching up on almost a whole season of 90210 I missed at school last semester. It’s definitely entertaining when I have downtime.

After napping for a bit, I got ready and went to the “taster session” (open gym) for the women’s basketball team here. I was actually pretty nervous because I haven’t played in a few months and know I’m out of shape to play. However, I turned out to be one of the better ones there. Some girls have barely ever played before, and a lot just didn’t know what they were doing. With that being said, I felt a lot better about my skills (which were a bit rusty for me, but not too bad) when seeing how everyone else played. I could definitely point out the 5 or 6 girls with skill who have played for the team the past few years. I was happy to be playing with a little talent here and there! I was also anxious to see if there were any differences in terms or playing overseas. The captains did a really good job of explaining everything and making everyone feel included which I liked. It was really funny for me to hear so many girls yell out “unlucky” to other girls for encouragement. Whenever someone missed a shot or messed up in some way, they would say “unlucky.” I was so confused at first but then I realized they meant “it’s okay” or “good try.” Still, it was so strange. They also called the pinnies (practice shirts) “bibs.” Overall, it was a good time and I’m glad to be playing a little again. Wednesday afternoon is “trials” (tryouts) so I’ll go to that and see what happens!

After class tomorrow I’m planning on going exploring a little more around the area. Raleigh and I may take a walk to Richmond park, a beautiful area right near campus with deer and other pretty things, or take the bus to a nearby town! The weather has been really crappy and rainy for the past two days, but it looks like it will clear up for tomorrow so I’m excited! More updates to come about a new adventure…