From Southsider to World Traveler Pt. 2

For the first time since 2002, Douglas is not spending the winter months traveling between her home in Greece (with husband Vasilis) and basketball stops throughout Europe. While playing professionally in Russia, Spain, Turkey and Lithuania, Douglas has been a EuroLeague All-Star and a regular veteran in EuroLeague competition, once leading all of Europe in scoring and frequently competing with the top clubs on the continent. Absorbing the cultures, the languages and the cuisine has become one of the favorite staples of her worldly lifestyle.

This winter though, she is spending the vast majority of her time doing rehabilitation at St. Vincent Sports Performance on the northwest side of Indianapolis where she consults with Fever doctors and trainers regularly.

Immediately after the Fever season ended and championship hoopla subsided, Douglas was in a feverish mode to rehab and return to the court. She had dressed for Game 4 of the Finals with sincere hopes of a possible return in that series Ė albeit knowing she was not near 100 percent; and also knowing her team was playing with just nine players after a Game 2 injury to Jeanette Pohlen.

ďThe whole game, I was nervous, for the team and myself. Prior to the game, I had a talk with Coach [Dunn] and Kelly [Krauskopf] about playing me. Iíd worked extremely hard and went through shootaround that day, but everybody knew I was nowhere near 100 percent. With me and JP out, we were down to 9 [players]. If somebody else went out, there might be a situation where I might go in. I was extremely nervous, probably the most nervous Iíd ever been. We were playing for a world championship. I wanted to be in there so bad, but I didnít want to be a hindrance to the team.Ē

During and after the Finals, rehab was constant, though slow and frustrating with continued swelling and pain. Weeks after the Fever celebrations, she intended to make her debut with Wisla Can-Pack in Krakow, Poland, in mid-November, but a re-evaluation revealed her ankle had not completely healed.

Plans to play in Poland were scrapped and team officials with Wisla turned to fellow WNBA star Alana Beard, instead. Douglas turned to her team of specialists and underwent surgery.

Now, she visits the rehabilitation clinic usually twice a day. She maintains her ordinary strength and cardiovascular conditioning and spends the rest of her time between family and finding time for interests lost playing professionally almost 12 months per year for the past decade.

ďLife has been great living here in Indianapolis and actually being an ordinary person. Everybody knows our schedule in the summer with the WNBA schedule and responsibilities. Iíve definitely been given a lot of extra time with friends and family here. Itís been amazing to reconnect with a lot of different people. I have spent time around family friends and doing a lot of things that I enjoy, that I like, that I canít do in other countries.

ďPeople might not know that IĎm big into interior decorating and design. I almost have my house in Florida (Ft. Myerís) pretty good now. I put a lot of work into it when I first got it, but usually I would just go down there to enjoy myself. It was just a sanctuary for me and I wasnít putting much effort into it. But in this time period, Iíve been down there several times just to clean, re-organize and do little projects that have been neglected because I just didnít want to do them in the occasional 2-3 days at a time that I used to spend there.

ďI just got a new place here in Indy last February. I did a lot with it in the summer, but now, having more free time, Iíve comfortably done even more of what I have wanted to do with the place. Iím a very clean and organized person. Being overseas usually for eight months at a time makes it difficult to stay organized. Iíve been able to get caught up on paperwork and other things that have been neglected for so long.Ē

But for strengthening the ankle, Douglasí body and mind are as healthy as ever. She has never had this much time between the stress and pressure of travel and playing games and leading her teams.

The 33-year old knows she still has multiple years left in her playing career, but thoughts of anything beyond the short-term are purely secondary. Goals now are singular Ė she has immediate sights set on resuming basketball activity, including a return to action overseas before beginning the 2013 WNBA season with Fever teammates inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

ďI took maybe a week off after we won, but ever since that time Iíve been lifting and doing cardio as much as I could. I feel about the strongest I ever have been in my whole career. When youíre overseas, you have travel and games and hard practices, but this has given me a chance to take care of my body. My body feels awesome and mentally, I feel rested because Iím working out just for me.

ďThe first and sole focus right now is on my ankle. Iím ahead of schedule and definitely looking forward to the next step which is getting back on the court.Ē

As her rehab and preparation continues, Douglas took the rare moment to reflect on the Feverís recent title Ė special to her as an Indianapolis native who initiated trade conversation to return to Indy in 2008, despite the pressure to perform for her hometown team.

ďI think Iíll always remember that moment where weíre all on the podium and holding the trophy finally. So many times we have done crazy little TV promos with the trophy; so many times I have been teased by the trophy and so many times I have been that other team walking off the floor without it. It felt so good to have that trophy in my hands. I think holding that trophy will be what I remember the most.

ďWithout a doubt, no question about it, I felt a sense of relief in finally winning a title. Thereís a lot of pressure playing in front of your hometown, that I put on myself [when I wanted to come back here], but it definitely feels good to win a championship here.Ē

The small-town girl who helped bring Indianapolis a championship trophy still yearns for more, both in the WNBA and in a modern life of around-the-world travel.

ďI just love the game. I canít envision my life without playing. I set goals for myself every offseason, no matter my age, to improve on my weaknesses and even my strengths. I never really imagined going and living overseas half the year, every single year, but itís made me who I am as a person. I really wouldnít change anything that Iíve done. Iím proud of what Iíve done and accomplished, but Iím still very much an Indiana girl at heart. Iíve been all over the world. Basketball has taken me so many places and Iíve been blessed to do that. My roots, though, are here and I always want to maintain a life here.Ē

No matter her eventual legacy, Katie Douglas can take great pride in helping her city to its first professional basketball championship since 1973. But before any concerns with legacy and long-term goals, Douglas remains focused on her return to the court Ė sooner, rather than later.