There is no better education that international travel and living in a different culture. I had a wonderful, hard-earned opportunity to represent USA Basketball traveling to Vienna, Frankfurt, Slovakia, Chetamul, Mexico and Brazil. We interacted with teams from all around the world and we had many memorable moments. There is something special about being exposed to different social norms, gaining social perspective and forming new friendships through finding common bonds. I was particularly shaped by my experience living in Sceaux, France (a smaller town 20 min. south of Paris, the last stop on the B line). Read more from my overseas diary in the Archive section of my website!
It is quite the opportunity to have a profession that rewards you for living your dream and expressing your passion. Being a professional athlete requires much discipline, focus, drive and a strong sense of purpose and role within the context of the larger goal- to win. Whatever is asked of you as a teammate, player, mentor and role model you get done. Parts of being a professional athlete tapped into my experiences representing USA Basketball. Understanding your role and how you can help the group reach a greater goal is very important. The bottom line in any business is success and the skill sets one acquires through being a professional athlete does translate to the corporate and business setting. The experience of being a professional athlete is an opportunity of a lifetime!
I earned a scholarship to Stanford University where we were Pac-10 Champs, earned All-Academic Pac-10. I was coached by Tara Vanderveer, Olympic Gold Coach, Amy Tucker, Karen Middleton and Julie Rousseau. Education has always been very important to me and there is no place that can compete with the dynamic environment that Stanford provides. I felt at home amongst the most motivated, inspiring, creative and talented individuals. Many great friendships were made, including my roommate who went on to win a Gold in Sydney as a swimmer. (to view stats click here).
There is nothing like representing something larger than you. USA Basketball brings the most talented individuals in the country together to reach a common goal, a gold medal. Representing the entire country in international play brings a sense of pride that is hard to describe. My coach reminded us that the three letters on the front of our jerseys were far more important than any name that could be placed on the back. Life lessons and dynamic skills sets are acquired through such competitive environments. Competitive is an understatement. There is nothing I wanted more than to represent my country and win a gold. Training hard, recovery and mental toughness came together to make it happen. I looked at supposed challenges as opportunities; the small things did not get in the way (the time zones, travel, new cultural norms). Basketball has provided me incredible cultural opportunities; my USA Basketball team won a gold medal at the Jr. Olympics in Brazil. We traveled from Frankfurt, Slovakia, Chetumal, México to Brazil
I started playing basketball for the right reasons- not to justify my height (at 6’5″), but to express my soul and my passion. I found my niche in the 6th grade. I played for the North Tartan AAU team that won nationals (three of my teammates had successful professional careers), earned Sporting News Top Student Athletes in the Country (1 of 10), Parade Magazine Fourth Team All-America, Associated Press Minnesota Player of the Year, USA Today Minnesota Player of the Year, Gatorade Minnesota Player of the Year.