Strait Sends Updates On Basketball Abroad

It seems like only yesterday I was suiting up in the purple and white. I can still hear the crowd cheer from the sidelines and the announcer shout out the famous “T-R-U … M-A-N” chant whenever the ‘Dogs make a big play. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss Truman immensely. That being said, I am having a ball — no pun intended — in my new home playing basketball for the Newcastle University Knights and working toward a master’s degree in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England.

Both basketball and school are quite different here than they are back in the USA. From classes, to lifting weights, to style of play and even the slang — I have had to learn a whole new way of life on and off the court here in England.

The first thing I noticed at Newcastle was the difference in facilities/funding. University sports teams do not receive the same amount of support that schools in America do. At first it felt strange not to play the most popular sport on campus, as I had my whole life. As one might guess, football — soccer — and rugby reign supreme in England and receive most of the attention. The Newcastle Sport Centre has two basketball courts, but they are not regulation-sized, so we have to host our home games at a different university across town. In addition, we don’t have a designated locker room and all the fancy gear that usually accompanies a spot on the basketball team — we even have to buy our own basketball shoes. Despite the conditions being so different than when I was spoiled rotten at Truman, I am still humbled that I get to further my basketball career and earn a master’s degree in Media and Journalism.

I think my favorite difference between basketball here and back at home is the style of play. Here, there are very few set plays — everything we do on the court is fluid and constant. During preseason, we learned a style of play similar to the “Regular” offense the Bulldogs use, but we are given more freedom in the system than in the States. I have also found myself running a lot more here in England. Despite my pure hatred for long-distance running — my 1.5 mile test can attest to that — I feel that I can play for almost an entire 40 minutes without needing a sub.

On the academic side of things, there is a major difference between English and American classes, or modules. Unlike at Truman, modules in England only meet for lecture once a week, usually for two to three hours. Later in the week we attend seminar where we practice what we learned in lecture. For example, in my Journalism Principles and Practice module, we learned how to write different types of stories and use specific equipment in lecture then practice writing and using cameras, video programs, Photoshop, etc. in the seminar session.

In my opinion, the English style of teaching is a lot more student-led than in the States. Professors give lecture and include a set of additional readings we are encouraged to complete on our own time. If we do not complete the readings the professor might not care, but you definitely won’t be prepared for the big essays and exams throughout the term, which are usually worth at least 40 percent of your grade. There is no busy work in England — you don’t get worksheets or chapters assigned from a textbook. Instead you are instructed to complete outside readings to prepare for the assignments. They way I look at it, in America the professors are behind you, pushing you to the finish line. In England the professors are sprinting ahead of you — you have to keep up or you won’t pass.

After my time here in Newcastle is over, I hope to play professional basketball somewhere in England or Europe. I just can’t shake this basketball bug … I want to play as long as possible while my mind and body are still able. I want to be a kid forever, and I can absolutely attribute my time at Truman to strengthening my love for the game. Because of the coaching staff — shout out to Eags, Tandez, Theo and the grad assistants — my incredible teammates, and the memories I made as a Bulldog, I was able to pursue basketball at the next level. Time and time again, my years on the Truman State women’s basketball team reminded me how much I have to be thankful for — I am forever indebted to everyone who helped me get to where I am today.

This time last year, I scored my 1,000th point with Truman #23 across my chest — a milestone I thought I couldn’t top. Never would I imagine that a year from then I would be playing basketball in a different country and earning another degree. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity I have been given here in England, and though I’m wearing red and navy as a Knight, I’ll always bleed purple.