The Burner Blog: Transitions Pt. II
Dec. 18, 2013
Former women’s basketball player Taylor Burner is playing professionally for Petah Tikva in Israel and will be sharing her experiences with GoSeawolves.org in the “Burner Blog.” Check back for updates.
So now that I’ve told you a little bit about my transition into Israel, I want to give you guys a little bit of info on the basketball here. The Israeli First Division is known as the “Winner League.” When driving around you see the logo on all of the corner stores and signs lining the streets; needless to say, basketball is big here, men’s and women’s. Fans are crazy and LOVE us Americans (even if I am technically an Israeli). But the reason the fans are so gung-ho about women’s basketball is because of the players that come from America; the league boasts names like Danielle Adams, Tamara Young, Kaili McLaren, Allison Hightower, Karima Christmas, Jasmine Hassle, Tiffany Jackson, Tayler Hill…the list goes on.
With that being said, the level of play here is definitely a huge transition for me. Playing with and against this caliber of player every day is certainly something to get used to and adjust to. Because everything happens quicker, it requires me to be more alert than usual and always be ready. But instead of seeing it as an obstacle, I have chosen to embrace it. To be able to practice against Kaili McLaren every day is not a hurdle; it is a chance to get better. Having to guard Danielle Adams in a game or have her defend me only makes me a better player and more ready for the next game.
Not only is the level of play different here in Israel, but also the speed of the game is much faster. When a player goes from high school into college, they experience change in terms of the speed of the game and expectations—the same thing happens when a player goes from college into professional leagues. Much of the game becomes just playing smart. Practices are shorter, most of the time only an hour and a half, so we are expected to understand and do things correctly the first time. Along with this, extra work is expected; we don’t have lifting times or open gym time whenever we want, so it is up to us to make sure that we get in the weight room in our free time (which there is a lot of!) and get to practice early to shoot.
The biggest difference though, which kind of encompasses all of the things I have mentioned, is that basketball is now your job. Money and your fate are on the line. And I guess in college this was somewhat the case, but over here, it is escalated. For foreign players, each game could be your last and you could be sent home at anytime, so this intensifies the competitive nature of the game. Basketball is now, on a larger scale, a business and just as much as you make money from your team, they make money off of you, too.
Now I know this might all sound a little scary and somewhat crazy, but it is nothing to fear. I came to Israel scared out of my mind; however, after I was settled, I learned to embrace the change. Embrace the competition. Being here has made me respect, more than ever, those players who are masters of the game. Though it took some time to realize, it is because of them that I will see success in this game.
Until next time, Seawolves…