Digging Deeper Into The "Off-Season"

You've seen them on the court. You've seen them in the community. But where do the Liberty and other WNBA players go in the off-season? Not many fans beyond the "W" community know about the lives led by our players outside the summer months.

Here's the scoop; at the conclusion of the summer, a majority of WNBA players sign contracts with teams overseas to keep their bodies in shape and their game on point. With each passing year, players get better, which in turn makes WNBA play better. And overseas competition in the off-season is a large contributing factor to that success.

Sure, we see the updates about their play. But what else goes on? Is it all fun and games? Is it a cultural thrill? Or is it just part of the job? NYLiberty.com's Jessica Quas gets to the bottom of it all to find out more about their lives once the Liberty shuts its doors each year.

Today, she tracks down forward Erlana Larkins in Turkey.

How many seasons have you played overseas?

Where was your favorite city to play in and why?
I don't have a favorite city because I've only played in two so far. But of the two, I like Mersin better. The weather is nicer and it is directly on the beach. It's not as cold as Samsun, my city last year.

Do you keep in touch with former overseas team-mates? Do they ever visit New York when you’re in town?
Of course. I keep in touch with former overseas teammates. However none of them have visited New York, except Adeola (Olanrewaju), but she doesn't count because she's from Brooklyn.

Have you ever tried to learn the country’s language before heading overseas?

Have you ever picked up any of the language during your time overseas?

How do you stay in touch with friends or family?
There's a computer program called Skype which allows us to purchase a number and call as if it were an actual phone.

Is there any time for fun/entertainment? Is it comparable to the U.S. in anyway?
Yes, there's time for entertainment, but its not as good as the U.S. Although, Istanbul is the closest to it here.

Do you have a lot of free time to travel or sight-see? If not, is that something you’d be interested in?
I don't really get much free time. It's because we practice a lot and in our down time I try to rest.

How do you stay up to date with the current, popular music and television shows while over there?
I do through online websites. I'm able to watch TV shows on there, as well as listen to music. Plus iTunes is pretty up to date as well. So I can purchase seasons of shows that I won't get to see that I watch back home.

Do you ever eat any of the local cuisine or do you just stick to things you know?
Yes, I eat the local cuisine. I actually like Turkish food and it's healthier.

How would you describe your local culture? Can you relate to any of it? Does it feel like home in any way?
The local culture is very strict here. And I can't relate to it because my views of things are extremely different. It doesn't feel like home in any way.

What is one of your fondest memories about playing overseas?
The fondest memory of playing overseas thus far is when we won the President's Cup, which is the top two teams from last year play one another.

If you could play anywhere you haven’t before, where would it be and why?
I would pick Italy. I have envisioned that it's a really beautiful place. And it would be nice to have some authentic Italian food.

While in Turkey, have you been able to take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea?
No and I don't think I ever would.

Season tickets for the Liberty's 2010 campaign at Madison Square Garden are on sale now by calling 212-465-6073.