Brooke Wyckoff Diary: Ch. 2

Connecticut Sun forward Brooke Wyckoff is playing for Mann Filter, based in Zaragoza, Spain. One of five Sun players competing overseas, Brooke will be writing occasional diary entries about her experiences.

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Wow, is it the middle of December already?

It feels like just yesterday I was in Cincinnati with my family, packing my things to move to Spain. Now, in just about a week, Iíll be flying home for a quick visit with them over Christmas. I am extremely excited to go home.

Of course, I am still enjoying my life here in Spain, although the past month has been anything but easy. Donít worry. I am still getting plenty of sleep. But after starting strong, my team hit a little bit of a skid, and it has been a bit stressful to say the least. Itís never fun to lose, no matter if youíre playing a game of checkers or touch football. But, as Iíve found out in my years as a professional, the stakes of losing are much higher at this level.

Professional teams and leagues around the world differ a bit from those in the U.S. In leagues such as the WNBA, NBA and NFL, we are accustomed to seeing the same teams year in and year out, although they may switch locations every once in awhile. We recognize the teams by their location and team name. In other parts of the world, including Spain, teams are part of a league, but they are usually owned and run by local sponsors as well as the local government.

Also, the teams in the leagues may differ from year to year due to the fact that they can drop out of the league as a result of a poor record or qualify to enter the league by doing well in an inferior one. Teams are usually known by their sponsor. For example, my team is sponsored by and named after a local company that makes filters, Mann Filter. As a result, there are many close and personal ties with the team, its sponsors, and the city in general.

So, when you are losing, things get a little stressful and people begin to worry. A lot of money and personal effort has been invested into making the team possible. Good results are expected, and rightfully so.

My team has an excellent roster. It includes Deanna Nolan, a WNBA All-Star and World Champion; Begona Garcia, who is a member of the Spanish National Team and a former member of the Detroit Shock; Reetta Piipari, a former NCAA All-American for Xavier University and member of the Finnish National Team (as well as my roommate here in Spain!); Lucila Pascua, also a member of the Spanish National Team; Pilar Valero, a deadly shooter and penetrator; and Marta Zurro, also a former member of the National Team.

We also have Paola Mercadal, Teresa Seco and Patricia Riveres, excellent players who go to school or work full time and find time to be integral members of the team. With all this talent, the general assumption is that we should be near the top of the league.

Unfortunately, things donít always go the way theyíre supposed to, and weíve had to learn a few things about ourselves as a team in order to get back on track. After four consecutive highly disappointing losses, we rallied together to defeat the number three team in the league at their place.

We have two more games before the break for Christmas, and we need to continue to build this positive momentum and try to get ourselves higher in the league standings. It never ceases to amaze me that I am still learning things about the game of basketball on a daily basis, and Iíve been playing competitively since I was eight years old.

I have learned so much already this season mostly about myself as a player and also more lessons in grace under the pressure of losing and not playing as well as I would like. Despite the feelings that come with losing, thereís nothing like the rush of playing well and winning. And for that, I truly love what I do and am thankful every day for the opportunity to be doing it.

Like I said, I am ecstatic to be coming home for the holidays. I love living in Spain but the one downside is being so far away from family and friends, (and great American food!!!), so I will cherish every moment I have with them when I am home. I hope all of you have blessed holidays and a wonderful New Year.