In my dreams America waves back at me. Probably everyone has hummed this Hungarian hit before. Our player Dalma Czukor for sure, because a couple of weeks ago she had the opportunity to get a peak behind the scenes of the world of the WNBA.
Our youth player who is getting ready for the U20 competitions has paid a visit to Mexico as a part of a student exchange program and on her way back home she spent eight days in Phoenix on an invitation by Yvonne Turner.
"I felt like i was in an American movie - Dalma began to recall the experience. The food, the giant buildings that I have seen only in movies before came to life in front of me, In addition, Vonnie's teammates and the club's staff have greeted me very friendly, and they even let me see behind the scenes of the work of a professional American club."
Dalma was able to experience the days of a WNBA player, the structure of the trainings, which had some interesting points for her. "They work in a different rhythm than us. They have one training per day, which is led by six coaches, but many assistance staff members are also present. Their day begins with a video analysis at around 9.45 followed by a 15-20-minute individual training. After that comes a two-hour long team training. They don't have a practice in the afternoon, but they have the option to come in for shooting practice. The most surprising thing for me was when a boys' team appeared at the practice. As I found out they do not practice 5v5 against each other, but their opponent is a strategically built-up boys' team who play basketball in the style of the next opponent! Getting to be on this team requires a serious selection process."
Trainings don't take place in the arena, but in its neighborhood, except for the last gathering before games. "In the gigantic hall with tha capacity of 14 000 you can enter through a metal detector and with a wristband. Lots of people work there, but everyone was very nice and helpful to me. Even the coach came to me and said congratulations for our Euroleague run. I was there at the season opener, and they made a big deal out of it. There were T-shirts on every seat that said "Believe in Women!" It is a part of a campaign to make women's basketball more popular.
Phoenix beat Las Vegas in an epic duel by two points. "It was an incredible night! MY seat was close to the court, I could breathe and sweat together with those on court. Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker was sitting close to me too. The atmosphere was very good, the whole arena were cheering the team on together. They tried to entertain the fans during pauses in the game as well, with videos, with music, or their mascot was performing on the court. It was great to see how close we are to them here in Sopron in the aspect of the equipment of the arena, organization, the job done and the service of the fans. The difference is in the volumes - everything os so gigantic - and the financial possibilities, but these things work for us too.
How was the game? - Dalma asked back. They put more emphasis on offense, and 1-on-1 play, but I wouldn't say they don't play defense, or there is no team play. It is strange that while in practice there is a lot of physical contact, referees don't really allow that in-game. They blow the whistle for even the smallest ones. They came up woth a big win, which they celebrated together. Unfortunately I couldn't join them, because I am still under 21 years old, so they wouldn't let me in to the party place even after the stars tried to help me get in. They take this very seriously there.
Dalma also had the opportunity to meet our new American guard Briann January. "I took may photos with the famous members of the team who were all very nice.They all said how well they feel during their season in Europe as well. Briann was very happy when she found out that I came from Sopron. She said that she had been gathering information about the town and asked me to show her around when she gets here. She is eagerly waiting for the next season!"
A major part of the players' days is the marketing work, and social representation. "They are visiting schools regularly, where they tell kids stories, play with them, visit various institutions, like the fire department, where they get a look at the tasks the people of that specific profession have. They were also in a shopping center, where they jumped behind the counter to work. We can see that they pay much attention to this, and it comes naturally for the players."
Phoenix itself was a unique experience for Dalma as well. "It is a big city with a huge university center, with skyscrapers and palm trees in the center of it, with the desert and mountains in the background. Despite its size it is a safe place. The players, except for Griner all live in a modern housing estate equipped with a pool, barbeque place, gym and common areas, and they also get together in their free time. For example we watched the NBA Finals together, but we also went to a baseball game and to play golf, too.
What I experienced gave me a hreat deal of motivation - finished Dalma. It would be great to be a part of this world as a player once too!"