Armintie Checks in From Russia

My rookie season in the WNBA has come to an end and it was absolutely everything I thought it would be. I had the opportunity to play on a great team and against some of the best athletes in the world. Plus I was awarded Rookie of the Year, something I had only imagined before this season. I couldnít have asked for a better rookie season. I learned a lot about the game of basketball and life off the court as a professional athlete. It was my first time living outside of Mississippi, which was a challenge for me, but I love Chicago and am looking forward to returning.

I had a short break after the season, so I spent time at home in Mississippi and rested up for my first season playing overseas. This off season I am playing in Russia, specifically in SIBERIA!!! I had no idea just how in the middle of nowhere I would be but, I am, really in the middle of nowhere. The team I play for is Shelen-ETK. The competition in our league is tough; unfortunately my team isnít one of the better teams, but Iím doing all that I can to help improve our record.

The way of life here is so much different from life back in the States, and it is so cold! I believe this week it was about 7 degrees Fahrenheit, completely opposite from my summer in Chicago. Because itís so cold here, I try to stay indoors as much as possible. Being from the South, I am not used to this weather at all. Since I spend a lot of time indoors, I wanted to take a minute and give yaíll some insight into my life in Siberia.

First of all there are absolutely, positively no laundry dryers here. None! I have to hang my clothes on a line outside. This was a rude awakening for me, I have never done this before in my life.

There is no English cable here. Everything is in Russian. I have no idea of what they are saying or what is going on. So, because there is no TV, I do a lot of sleeping in my spare time.

This brings me to the point that I miss English-speaking people so much!! I honestly know what it is like now to be in a country where you donít speak the language and you canít ask questions, or answer them. I am learning Russian phrases as I go, but just the basics.

Fortunately, I have a partner in this whole adventure. Cori Chambers, who plays for the Connecticut Sun, is my teammate. I was so happy to see her when I arrived. Iíve known Cori for a long time, we used to play each other in college when she played for Georgia University. We are battling through Siberia together. We are the only Americans here in Krasnoyarsk, which is the area in Siberia that we are located.

The culture here is very interesting. The best way I can describe it, is that people here seem to do everything opposite of what Americans do in their daily lives. Three things that stand out the most are: they wear their wedding rings on their right hand Ė not their left, friends greet each other with a kiss on the lips, and they donít have toilet tissue in the womenís restrooms.

I havenít really tried the Russian cuisine, Iím a little nervous about that, so I stick to what I know, but their cookies here are so delicious!!! I have tried to do a little shopping and there is mainly clothes, but no brands that we have back home.

I miss the Sky and the Sky fans!! Be sure to follow my team over in Russia. Iím still standing tall in Russia without all the luxuries Iím used to back in the states (like a dryer!). Iím counting down the days until I arrive back to Chicago... is it April yet?

Click here to find out more about Sky athletes during the off-season.