Former Eagle from Carson City, Nev., adjusts to new life and new professional hoops career in Norway
Most members of the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team who won the 2010 Big Sky championship will be back this season for a shot at defending its esteemed title, but for one former Eagle, those dreams of another championship run now lie with a new team, in a new country.
Nicole Scott, a three-year starting forward for the Eagles, recently embarked on a new basketball adventure in Burgen, Norway. The 2010 Eastern graduate now plays in the professional ranks as a member of the Gimle BBK team. Her squad competes in the Kvinnelgaen League in Norway, and has won that league's regular-season title in three of the last four seasons. Scott hopes to use her experiences at Eastern to contribute to the winning tradition of Gimle BBK.
"The closer I got to the end of my college career, the more I realized I didn't want it to end," said Scott. "You always hear players who are done with college and miss the sport and team camaraderie so much, so I knew I could not pass up an opportunity to continue my basketball career."
Scott, who originally hails from Carson City, Nev., is the only American on the squad this season, and the only foreigner at all for that matter. Besides Scott, the 14-person roster is comprised 100 percent of native Norwegians.
"It's exciting experiencing a new culture, and my teammates have been great in welcoming me," said Scott. "And I actually fit in pretty easily because of the whole blonde hair, blue eyes thing."
Scott arrived in Norway on Sept. 21 and has been practicing with the team for the past two weeks as they prepare for their first game on Friday, Oct. 8. Despite Scott's minority status on the team, the biggest shock has been in the training regimen with Gimle BBK. This is not because of the rigors of playing professional basketball; rather, Scott is learning how to adjust to having so much free time.
"We only practice four days a week and each practice lasts about an hour and a half," said Scott. "I am used to being in the gym six days a week for at least two hours at a time. A lot of my teammates here go to school during the day, so I have ended up using some of that free time to do weight training and conditioning on my own because, as a team, we don't devote extra time to those areas."
In addition to the alterations in practice schedule, Scott has found the language to be another interesting obstacle.
"All my teammates speak English to me, and we are all able to communicate easily, but when I go into a grocery store or a restaurant for instance, I have encountered some problems," said Scott. "If there are no pictures of the food, I have to ask what exactly it is I'm about to eat. And if I buy a packaged meal, I have to have someone tell me how to cook it and for how long because I can't read any of the instructions."
Although there are minor challenges to endure in life overseas, Scott feels the benefits of such an experience certainly outweigh any drawbacks.
"It is definitely weird not seeing my closest friends and family" said Scott. "But everyday gets easier and easier and I am so excited about meeting new people and developing new relationships. I am getting to experience a part of the world that, without this opportunity, I would probably never get to see. I could play basketball anywhere, maybe not professionally, but I can always play the sport. Traveling to a completely new place, with a different culture, is what makes this such a wonderful, eye-opening opportunity."
Scott played four years for the Eastern Washington women's basketball team, appearing in 118 games to reach fourth in Eastern's record book for career games played. In Eastern's memorable 2009-10 campaign, in which the team captured the Big Sky regular-season title, Scott started all 31 games for the Eagles, contributing 216 points, 156 rebounds and a team-leading 39 blocks. Scott tallied 137 total blocks in her career, which ranks fourth on EWU's all-time career records list.
Scott is on a one-year contract with the Gimle BBK club, and based on her performance during her rookie season, she could have the opportunity to re-sign with the Norwegian squad next year or move up to the next level of professional basketball in Europe.
"I am open to wherever this experience leads me," expressed Scott. "But I do know I want to play for as long as my body will allow."