Linda Fröhlich: Journals from Istanbul

Linda Fröhlich completed her first year in a Fever uniform in September, and this winter plays in Istanbul, Turkey. Though she attended an American university (UNLV) and has played in the United States since her teens, Fröhlich is perhaps better recognized internationally. A native of Germany, she is regarded as the best women's player from her country, and this fall led Germany through a qualifying tournament for next year's World Championships. While she has regularly played overseas, the 2006-07 season is her first campaign with a team that will participate in EuroLeague competition. Her journal will appear regularly throughout the WNBA offseason.
March 12, 2007

Hello Fever Fans.

Well, the European season is in full swing and we have been mighty busy (that's why my entry is a little bit delayed ... sorry!)

Every club team is competing for their country’s respective title while the EuroLeague is down to the Final Four.

My team, Fenerbahce came within two seconds of going to the Final Four, but we lost to the Spanish powerhouse Ros Casares led by WNBA stars Delisha Milton and Margo Dydek. In the deciding game, we were up by two with six seconds to go, so it hurts. We were so close to make this 100th anniversary of Fenerbahce really sweet.

That defeat has definitely left a bitter taste in our mouths, that won't go away.

Fröhlich shares a laugh with new Fever teammate Sheri Sam while their teams crossed paths during travel in Turkey this winter.
For better news, my husband finally came to visit me. I had a blast with him: we were able to travel to some other cities here in Turkey, check out downtown Istanbul, ride the ferries and my favorite – go to the beach! It was just good for me to have him here, especially after that tough loss. Andrew has the ability to tell me my mistakes in the game, inspire me to work on certain aspects of my game, but to do it in a loving matter. I know that he just wants the best for me, and I need that at times.

Well, one thing is for sure: I can't wait to get back to Indy. One of the reasons we go overseas is to improve our individual games, so we can become a better team. I see many of the Fever girls over here like Anna and Ebony and Sheri, and even those that I don't see we email or chat with each other. I must be chatting with K.B. almost everyday. When you see us high-fiving each other and cheering each other on, it is because we genuinely like each other!

Until next time,
Linda Fröhlich #13

January 30, 2007

Indiana Fever fans - HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL! I hope that your year has started well and that it will continue to be a year full of blessings.

Since my last entry many things have happened, and I've been eager to share my experiences with you..

Christmas break was a blast! Even though I only had seven days at home, my husband treated me like a princess each and every day. We had such a beautiful time together and I can't wait for him to visit me here in Istanbul. Maybe he will be my Valentines Day present? During the break I was able to see my brother as well. He is currently playing basketball at a junior college in California. This is his first time in the States and I must say he is adjusting very well, sometimes too well! As the big sister I want to tell all the girls to stay away from him until he is about 42. Well, maybe I am being over-protective ... ok, maybe 35 then?

Fröhlich defends new Fever teammate Sheri Sam during a recent cross-town rivalry game in Istanbul.
Now I would like to welcome a new member into our Fever Family: Sheri Sam. Did we get lucky or what? To get a player like Sheri with the 9th pick is definitely a great catch!!!

Sheri and I are both playing in Istanbul this WNBA offseason. At the moment, however, we are not teammates, but fierce rivals. The name of her team is Besiktas, and just last Friday we were able to get a second win in a highly anticipated rematch.

HOSGELDINIZ to the Fever, Sheri…as we'd say here in Turkey!!! Welcome!

Sorry Sheri, our game last week was definitely not a nice way to welcome you! But just let me tell you -- I can't wait to have you on my team, so you can box out other people the way you did to me ALL NIGHT LONG!

(Yeah, she did! She pushed me around!)

That's life though: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and fortunately we won! This month I was a candidate for the 2006 European Women's Basketball Player Award and I came in 10th place, but I did receive the most fan votes and that put a smile on my face. I really want to thank everyone who took the time to vote for me, and if you didn't … you'll get another chance next year!

Fröhlich has become a fan favorite among the blue-and-yellow fans of Fenerbahce.
In the EuroLeague Competition we have finished the first round, and against all expectations, ended up in first place in the so-called "group of death." It is called the "group of death" because the teams kept knocking each other off during pool play. With Fenerbahce being a new team in the EuroLeague we were expected to just get our feet wet, but we've exceeded all expectations and now it is full speed ahead!

I hope we'll take the experience and the confidence of the first round to move onward. Tomorrow we are going to play Dexia Namur, a Belgium team with Catherine Kraayeveld (New York Liberty). It is the start of a best-of-three series.

Hopefully, we'll have a full house like last Friday when we played against Sheri's team. All of our fans were there, and it was a great atmosphere. You should know that that over here, it seems as if winning against a big rival might be more important than actually winning the Olympics. The pride of the blue and yellow!

Queen Fröhlich was awarded her own throne prior to Christmas with her husband in Los Angeles.
Which leads me into the topic -- the fans of Fenerbahce. I really would like to explain to you just how engaged these fans are, but it's one of those things that you HAVE TO SEE to believe it! They are definitely always going the extra mile -- the party committee is often at the airport to welcome us back with songs and confetti. (Just like our dear Fever fans!)

Hopefully this will get you a better idea of how passionate they are about their players, though. At the last game before Christmas break, the fans of Fenerbahce caught me off-guard as they crowned me as their "Queen." At the ceremony, they went ALL OUT! I had a crown, I had a song, and I had a "throne" wrapped in a German flag. Absolutely crazy, but you've just got to love the fans here at Fenerbahce.

Last week I got to go to EuroDisney for the first time in my life, during a 10-hour layover in Paris. It has been years since I've dreamed of seeing Cinderella's Castle, and Mickey Mouse & Co., dancing in the streets. And they did not let me down! It was so fun to be there with my teammates and act like we did not have a care in the world.

Until next time,
Linda Fröhlich #13

December 18, 2006

It's Christmas Time: Hallelujah!!!!

This might be the most beautiful part of the year - you get all bundled up in your warm clothes, drink lots of hot chocolate, and have snow ball fights with loved ones ... unless you live in Los Angeles, like I do now, where it is 75 degrees on Christmas.

Whether you are in the snow or in the sun though, it is definitely a time of rejoicing and remembrance. I am looking forward to going home for a few days and to be able to see my family.

Fröhlich and teammates in front of a large Christmas tree, at the team hotel in Warsaw, Poland.
My time here in Turkey is going great, we continue to win and improve as a team. We are currently undefeated in the Turkish league and we only have two losses in the EuroLeague. I've got my routine down now, but it is time for a change. For a WNBA player that competes overseas, just to be able to go home is a luxury. We play basketball for 11 months of the year and sometimes even 12.

Just look at my schedule in the past year. Last season I competed seven months in Russia. From there I came straight to Indy for five months, then I went to play for the German National team for one month, and then soon after I came to Turkey. In those 13 months I've probably slept in my own bed 30 or so days.

Even on my little break from basketball, I still have two basketball camps to do! I have my 5th annual basketball camp in Las Vegas, and I am the special guest at a TriFytt Sports basketball camp.

I love what I do though, I was born to ball and this is my destiny - but to go home for a while and watch "Wife Swap" and eat some cookies ... that's the good life that I'm looking forward to once I get to unlace the Nikes! But until then I've got to "Lebe Meine Vision," live my vision!

Merry Christmas to all and always remember the reasons for the season.

Until next time,
Linda Fröhlich #13

November 24, 2006

Hello everyone! Thank you for taking the time to read part two of my diary.

Now that I am here for almost two months, the honeymoon seems to be over and everyday life has kicked in. I'm now used to the hustle and bustle of playing in Istanbul.

I like to look at my time here as a personal relationship. In the beginning stages the other person is laughing at your jokes, smiling at your annoying habits, and always giving you a pat on the back. But after some time the flower fades and the grass withers – your jokes are childish, your annoying habits are the causes of your arguments, and the once loving pat on the back is now a swift kick in your rear end. BUT you still love each other!

The Fenerbahçe team. Fröhlich stands at far right.
Let me get you a little summary of what has been going on in "Fenerbahçe-Land" these last two weeks:

We just got back from our EuroLeague game in Ekaterinburg, Russia and it seemed to have been the longest trip ever! We left on Monday after practice at 5:30 p.m. Strangely our lay-over ended up being in Vienna, Austria, which is four hours in the opposite direction of our final destination. From there it took us another four hours to get to Ekaterinburg, Russia … thank God that NOBODY ELSE would ever think to schedule their flight like that, just so that each player had a row to herself!!! With a time change of +3 hours, we arrived at the hotel at 6 a.m.!!!

While we were there, our coach was trying not to get confused by the time change, so he was explaining us our itinerary as follows: "All right ladies, we don't want the time change to affect us and that's why we'll stay on Istanbul time." Here we go: "So lunch is at 3 p.m., which is 12, and because the game starts at 7 p.m., which is 4, we'll leave at 5, which is 2."

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Ha Ha, coach! You have to admit, that was funny! :)

Unfortunately "pretending to be in Istanbul" didn't work and we ended up losing by 11 points. (Sidenote: this made the trip going home seem even longer!!)

Fröhlich with Fenerbahçe teammates and WNBA rivals Cappie Pondexter (center) and Tammy Sutton-Brown (left).
We have a very young team, and we'll need some extra time to get used to each other, and also to get used to the level of play in the Euro League. Believe it or not, but with 27 years I am the Vice-Grandma on the team, trailing "Nanna Sutton-Brown.”

In the EuroLeague, just like in the WNBA, you don't ever have an "easy opponent". Every team is the best in their own country. And a lot of teams have played together for years, which make them very difficult opponents.

These last two weeks we've given away two games – one at home by two points against Brno (last year's champ!), with Sophia Young and Deanna Nolan, and then the one on the road against Ekaterinburg with Cheryl Ford, Suzy Batkovic, Adia Barnes and Lindsay Whalen.

In the Turkish league, the results are a little bit more positive, because we are still unbeaten. As defending champion of last year's season, EVERYONE comes ready to play against us, and this weekend we'll once again have to give our best.

So basketball has been plenty and the two-a-days have been keeping us busy.

Frohlich was joined in Istanbul recently by her 18-year old sister Agnes. They are posed at the Fenerium, the team store for Fenerbahce Sports Klub.
Since I have arrived I've been very lucky to have had two weeks worth of visitors: first my youngest sister Agi visited me, and then last week an old friend came to see me. It's always nice to have family and friends visit, because it helps to break out of the usual routine, which is pretty much a cycle of sleeping—eating—practicing—watching TV—napping—browsing the Internet—and talking on the phone.

I have to admit that I haven't always been that bad though. I think it all started last year in Russia. When I was playing in Italy, I would take some nice walks in between practices, get a cappuccino and some gelato and on off-days explore the cities that were close. Due to the freezing weather in Moscow I was forced to change my lifestyle and I've gotten a little passive. Or maybe I am getting older?! AAAAAAhhhhh!

Nevertheless my routine has been very atypical for me. Just ask my husband whose favorite sentence seems to be "Lindaaaaa, could you please just chill??" Yeah, looks like our honeymoon period is over, too…ha ha…Andrew, you are still my #1!!!

Well, an example of my strange behavior is that only a couple of days ago I noticed the fact that my apartment is a five-minute walking distance from the ocean. It has a beautiful promenade along the coast….this has never happened that I would miss out on nature's beauty like that!!

But to my defense I have to say that since I've gotten to Istanbul my orientation has been completely off. First of all, because we have a driver who takes us everywhere and secondly because there are so many one-way streets, circles, coasts and narrow streets that all look alike.

At the end, I prefer "being taken" to places, because people drive crazy over here (hearing that from a German girl with Autobahn experience should tell you something about the drivers!). Just to give you an example, the first week our driver averaged one mirror per day. Let me repeat that: ONE MIRROR PER DAY!!! We have a little van which is bigger than the usual small European car, so he would squeeeeeeze through the little street — without success for those parked on the side! Another example is that if I would charge people money for honking, I'd be a millionaire by now.

Today I want to announce that the countdown has officially started: 30 days until Christmas!!

This has been a common ritual amongst players who play overseas, as a means of survival. I bet some of you are smiling right now, because you know exactly what I am talking about – “Man, I can't wait til Christmas, so I can get out of this office for a couple of days." Haha.

On that note I want to wish you a blessed pre-Christmas time. Happy Holidays to each of you. Thanks again for taking the time to read my personal diary. I will continue to keep them coming.

Until next time,
Linda Fröhlich #13

November 6, 2006

Hello guys,

This is Linda Fröhlich checking in from Turkey: I am excited about this opportunity to share with everyone what is taking place in my life during the WNBA off-season.

I hope to be able to give you a backstage pass into the European season, the food, the travel, the competition. There will be times of joy and sorrow, highs and lows, peaks and valleys, but I want to share everything from the excitement of winning the championship to the lonely days of missing my husband. WELCOME TO MY PERSONAL DIARY!

The name of my team is Fenerbahçe Istanbul. I have a couple of WNBA players as teammates over here this year again. There is Tammy Sutton-Brown (Charlotte) – she is crazy … haha … but I love her because she makes me laugh all the time. Then we have Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix), who is probably the future face of the WNBA and she can flat out score on ANYBODY – I am very impressed! We also have Nevriye Yilmaz, who played for the San Antonio Stars in 2005. She is the muscle of the team. Last, but not least, we have Megan Moody, our Australian and a 2006 graduate from Tulsa University. We also have some of the top Turkish players.

This season is a big one for Fenerbahçe as we are celebrating their 100-year anniversary, in which Fenerbahçe has established a reputation of dominance in European sports. In Turkey alone, they boast 25 million fans who cheer on their yellow-blue "canaries.” They are unbelievably great fans whose support is definitely one of a kind, and their chants and songs are very entertaining – and really funny to us foreigners, who don't understand one word that they are saying!

Thus far we are having a great season. We have played four games and are currently 3-1. Our first three games were for the President's Cup, which is one of three big titles you can earn throughout the Turkish season. Unfortunately we lost the final game against one of our biggest rivals: Besikata, whose roster includes the likes of WNBA stars Sheri Sam, Stacey Lovelace and Vanessa Hayden. They are also located in Istanbul, but they are on "the other side of the bridge"… on the European side. We live on the Asian side of Turkey. Even though Turkey belongs to Europe, less than 5% of its land is geographically in Europe.

Last season I competed in the EuroCup while playing in Russia with Fever teammate Tamika Catchings. We were able to capture the EuroCup Championship. This season I compete in the EuroLeague. The difference between the EuroLeague and EuroCup is that you compete in the EuroCup so you can qualify for EuroLeague the following year. The EuroLeague is like a miniature WNBA in terms of all of the girls from the WNBA who play in it. I am talking about Tina Thompson, Diana Taurasi, DeLisha Milton, Sue Bird, and many other top girls!

Fröhlich's first EuroLeague game was against Fever teammates Tan White and Tamika Whitmore. Pictured with Frohlich are Fenerbahce teammates and WNBA rivals Cappie Pondexter and Tammy Sutton-Brown.
Last Thursday was actually my first EuroLeague game ever. It was a special game for me, not only did I make my introduction into the EuroLeague, but I was also able to look across the court and see some familiar faces that just warmed my heart. I looked over and there were Tamika Whitmore and Tan White! Tamika and Tan play in Poland, for Lotos Gdynia. We gave each other hugs and talked about Indiana and how we are going to get to that WNBA Championship!

Then it was down to business, time to play some ball. It was a good game, but I felt bad after the game. We beat them pretty badly! I am glad to say that Tamika and Tan both played well though.

Tomorrow, we are leaving at 5.00 a.m. (!!!) for Valenciennes, France to play our second game in the EuroLeague, on Wednesday.

So, I am going to finish packing now, and called it a day soon. I hope all of you are doing well, and make sure to keep checking for further updates! Best wishes and God bless.

Linda Fröhlich #13