May 28, 2014
Mizzou alumna Syndey Crafton writes in about her experience playing overseas. Check out how much fun she was having below...
I've certainly heard about other players experiences, but not one is alike. We wasted no time once I landed in Quito, Ecuador. From there it was a three hour car ride to Ambato, Ecuador, where I resided for the next eight weeks. My living situation was not as expected. I ended up living with a teammate and loved every second. I had the option to get my own hotel but after a week, I was in heaven. I had my own room, with TV and WiFi. I also had my bed made daily, fresh food prepared any time I was hungry as well as my laundry folded.
Not two days after being in Ecuador we had our first game. I had one shoot around with my chilebo-Espoch, that morning and we played later that night.
After our first round of teams I being to notice how our team differed from the rest. The top three teams had multiple foreigners. Espoch had one and that was myself. Their were other college players from South Carolina, Florida state, and California, while the rest were players from Romania, Argentina and Spain. Also, the age range between players varied greatly. Our youngest was 16 and Mavort had players as old as 35.
The biggest adjustment for me was how aggressive they played. This was mind-blowing. There was grabbing, pushing, shoving and anything else you could imagine. It was so aggressive, it would alter my game. I also found out the hard way that you cannot speak to the referees. I received my first technical in our first game.
Overall my team went 2-12. It was rough. I didn't understand why it didn't bother the players if we won or not. Then I realized this was just for fun, but to me this was the start of my career. Every game I came in with the mindset that I would play my very best. I ended season with 420 points averaging 32.5 per game. I was the league's top scorer.
Life outside of basketball was a blast! I first had encounter with authentic salsa dancing. A couple of my teammates took me to a national park, where I could overlook the city of Ambato. The most fun I had was at a city called Baños. I zip-lined over two waterfalls and later hiked a mile down to another gigantic waterfall. It was like nothing I have ever seen, absolutely beautiful.
I came to Ecuador with an open mind. I knew it wouldn't be anything like I was used to in the United States. It was a great experience and gave me an idea of what it is like overseas. I am very thankful for the opportunity.
I am now back in the United States and will begin playing for a team in Italy this April. I leave for that on August 23.
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