Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Abroad

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I have to say that I am little jealous of those that are reading this from their homes right now. That means that you are there with all the good food that is prepared for this wonderful day. You are there with family, friends, and loved ones. I do hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving though. We all have so much to be thankful for these days. I, for one, am very thankful for all the things that have happened to me and for me in my life thus far. Whether it was good, bad, or indifferent I am thankful for it, because I know I learned from it, grew from, or just was happy and blessed that it occurred.

I am healthy; family is doing well despite having our first holiday without my grandmother. I am abroad getting paid to do what it is that I love to do, I am surrounded by positive people and positive influences, I am meeting new people and learning about different cultures. I am getting the opportunity to see different parts of the world. Like I mentioned in a few blogs ago, I am thankful for the new addition to our family, my little niece JaʼNiya. My sister is healthy after giving birth to her, my other sister and brothers are all doing well, and so are my other nieces and nephews. Mom and dad are both strong and healthy. So I am very thankful. I am also thankful to be able to share my life experience with all of you that are following and keeping up with me.

Now I will share with you how my Thanksgiving eve and Thanksgiving were.

Let me fill you in on this great trip that I had to Russia.

First to begin with, we had a four hour flight to Moscow. Once we landed we took a bus for 10 hours to Kursk (another part of Russia). Now let me share with the size of this bus. It was smaller than the short yellow buses in America. There was very limited space and there was no room for us to put our luggage underneath at all, so you know what that meant, yep the luggage was on the bus with us as well. It was the most uncomfortable ride that I have ever witnessed in all my days of traveling. Not only were we cooped up on that little bus, it was also snowing very hard so the driver was being extra cautious with his drive so it took about 11-12 hours instead of 10.

While driving of course there were bathroom stops and we stopped at this one rest place alongside the road and the most unusual thing happened. When we opened the door the lady that was in charge of that part of the building says to us in Russian that we had to pay to use the rest room. Yes yaʼll pay! It was a great thing that we have a teammate that is Russian, because without her we would have never made it through this trip. Anyway there was problem that came about with the restroom, no one on our team had exchanged money yet so none of us had any rubles, which is Russian money, so the lady then says OK three for a dollar. Yes One American Dollar. I was just standing there smiling, because I have never seen such advertising like that in my life. Not when it came to using the rest room. But luckily we were able to give her a dollar to use the restroom. If not it would have been an even longer trip.

Now we are back in the little van and off we go heading towards Kursk again. About 3 to 4 hours later we stop again, but this time the bathroom is inside of the store. A problem occurs there as well. The clerk at the store was very upset for some apparent reason and gave all of us a hard time. She did allow us to use the restroom, but she refused to sell us anything out of the store. I am still unsure of what exactly happened for her to get that angry but I do know that she was arguing with our bus driver for a lengthy period of time. I just wanted to get in and get out. I was not feeling like we were the most welcomed people out there in Russia, even though I couldnʼt speak the language I did understand the body language and the tone in most of their voices. So I just sat back and observed how things were unfolding.

Finally after getting back on the road we get to our hotel, (now like 8:30 am) and we had left Israel at 2 pm the day before. Once we get there, we had to drop our bags off to our room and go straight back down for breakfast. My body was thinking that it was bed time not breakfast time, but I went down to eat and be with the team anyway. From here on out we are just eating and sleeping, trying to rest up for the game the following day. We did have a light practice that night so that we could get a better feel for their gym.

Finally it's game time and we come out playing very well in the beginning. We were only down by two points by half time, so we were somewhat pleased especially since this team had beat our team by forty points in our gym the last time we played them. This was before I was on the team, so I wasnʼt exactly sure what had happened the game before, I just know what I was told. So being down by 2 at the half was a great thing. Then everything went wrong from there. The second half we were a totally different team, and not in a good way. Some of the girls just stop playing, it was almost like they had given up, like the were content with just playing twenty minutes. Some were still fighting while others were in a rut. The Russian team did what most would do. They took advantage of that and opened the lead up within a blink of an eye.

I was fairly upset, but not because we lost the game, it was the way that we lost it. We didnʼt go down fighting in the last 20 minutes of the game. From there we went back to the hotel, showered, ate, packed our bags and were back on the road for another 10 hour bus ride back to the Moscow airport. This time it was a much bigger bus and it was a lot more comfortable. We did make one or two stops but didnʼt face as much attitude from the clerks as we did when we were going to Kursk. As I sat there and just watched, I wondered to myself how can these people always be so angry and mean. I didnʼt want to just assume anything, nor say that they were just some rude, not so nice people, because I donʼt really know their culture like that so I didnʼt want to judge. All I came away with was that they were not from the same type of culture as I was from, and I had to accept that and move one. Now donʼt get me wrong, I am not saying that there are not any Americans like that, I just havenʼt had to deal with any like that. One thing that I have learned while traveling abroad is that you have to adapt to the culture, things will not always be what you are use to so that what I try to do.

Finally we get to the airport, and it is 7 am but the problem with that is our flight is not until 2 pm. Another long wait before we get on a 4 hour flight back to Israel. But wait, of course we did have a little encounter when we got to the airport as well. Our bus driver dropped us off at the wrong terminal with all of our luggage and of course he left once we were all off the bus. Once we got in there our Russian teammate was trying to talk to the people in there to figure out what it was that we had to do. They told her that we had to catch a bus to the other terminal because it was too far to walk, and there was no way that we could have walked through the airport to get there. Their airports are not exactly like the ones in America.

Now once we get back outside and we are waiting for the bus to arrive it was freezing outside. It wasnʼt snowing anymore, but it was still cold. While standing out there with luggage and all, we were informed that once the bus gets there that we would have to pay 500 rubles for each piece of luggage that we put on the bus. Management was not too pleased with this, but what were we to do. So we get on the bus and finally get to the terminal that we need to be. We still had some time before we had to take off, so some of us found outlets to get on our computers, while others found places to lay their heads for awhile because they were extremely tired. This was one tough trip, but we did make it though.

Until next time have a safe and blessed Holiday.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Long Days..

Hello everyone,

It has been some pretty long days. After our game that we won last Monday, we played that Thursday against the Romania team in the Euro-Cup. We did not play well against them at all. It was like we were in a rush to do everything, but we bounced back from that game today.

We played against the undefeated team here in Israel. The team is Ashdod, they were on a good winning streak here in Israel and had not lose a game up until now. They have a really good team. Tamara Moore from the states is on that team, Sherril Baker, an SEC girl, as well as Jennifer Humphrey. We were very pleased with how well we played tonight.

It was an away game and everyone here was talking about how hard it was to play in that particular gym. We beat the undefeated team on their home court, in a place that is supposed to be so tough to play in by 17! Everyone chipped in and played a huge part to this win. The coaches and management were really happy and so were we. Now we are off to Russia to play in another Euro-Cup game.

I am not even sure where the place is where we are going, all I know is that they said it is -3 degrees there. That is just too cold! But hey that's all a part of it. I was hoping that I would get to see my best friend, Sylvia, but I think it is almost like 6-8 hours away from her, so we wont be seeing each other. Maybe next time.

Well folks that all for now, I have to run. Once again it is almost 2 am here but I wanted to share with you what was going on before I lay it down.

Until Next Time.......


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Playing in Israel

So here we are... it is now Wednesday morning here in Israel, and we had our first game on Monday. It went very well, considering that I only had a day to practice with the team. I think the chemistry is already shaping up the way that we need it to. We have some pretty good Americans on our team, besides myself. We have two of the UConn players playing together, one of them a little older than the other, but that bond is still there. One is Kelly Schumacher, and she has the experience that is needed on all levels. She has won in college, has won two championships in the WNBA, and has the experience abroad as well. To top all of that, she is more importantly a great person and teammate.

The other former UConn player is one of the young up-and-coming talents: Charde Houston. After a good season in the WNBA with the Minnesota Lynx, alongside one of the great LSU Lady Tigers, Seimone Augustus, Charde is really playing well over here. She works very hard and competes when she steps on the floor. So far this has been a very good experience.

I played pretty well on Monday; I had 14 points and probably like 15 assists, but they only had me down for 7. The coaches and managers say that the stat man is new and is learning on the job, but ol' well, it was an overall good game and we came out with a win. We do have another game on Thursday against Romania. This game is in the Euro-Cup so I am looking forward to it. This will give our team another test to see how much we are really gelling together, as well as what it is that we need to work on even more for the future.

On to when I initially got here.

Things were so familiar to me from when I was here in 2005. The amazing part about it all is that I still kind of know my way around some of these parts. Many won't believe me, but I was kind of surprised that I did, because when I was here last time,s I didn't drive anywhere. I was here with one of my former teammates and Lady Tiger, Detrina White. Train, that's what we call her. She was very familiar with these parts because she had played here a couple of years already, so shetkind of took care of the baby Tiger. I was very happy to be here with her.

Some of my teammates were saying, "Temeka I am surprised that you remember all this", I was thinking to myself "so am I", but I just smiled and nodded my head.
The Isreali's have been very nice thus far, and everyone speaks English. There are a lot of place that have good American food, and just the other day I passed by the beach and it looked beautiful. I am going to get my chance to go down there as soon as we finish with the two-a-days and the weather gets a little better. It is winter time, but right now it is not that cold here. The past few days have been, but during the day it is very sunny and we've had really good weather. I will be sure to take pictures to let all of you see.

Well I guess I will get some rest now. It pretty early in the a.m. and I have practice in the morning. I will touch back with you all and let you know how Thursday turns out.

Until then God Bless,


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Big News!

This has been one of the busiest, most exciting weeks that there is.

On Sunday, November 9th, my 14 year old cousin who is almost like my brother, did something that most grown ups have yet to do. He was baptized!!!! This was something that brought tears to my eyes. I know that my grandmother was smiling really big on that day. I was so proud of him. This is not something that someone made him do, this was his choice and I personally think that it was a great one. I know there are some that may read this blog and may not be as strong on the religious side, and that is truly OK, I am just sharing my happy moments with you all like always.

After the baptism we all went over to my Aunt's house and ate some good food. She had a space walk for the kids and everyone else just sat around and talked like old times. To me this was the first real moment that we were all together on one accord since the passing of my grandmother. It was a very special day.

Three days later, my baby sister blessed us all by giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. Her name is Ja'Niya she was 6 pounds 4.2 ounces. She is adorable. Yep y'all I am an Aunt again. I already have 4 other nieces and 2 nephews, but this niece, I was there with my sister when she delivered her.

Now I have to be honest with you all; I never thought that I would make it through the entire thing. The last time this situation occurred, it was with my other sister and when she started having pain and asked for some medicine I was not doing well. The doctor came in to help her to ease her pain, and when he pulled out that needle, I immediately started doing sit-ups and push ups. LOL

The doctor looks at me and then my Mom, and asked my Mom if he needed to give me a shot. I was not handling it that well. This time my baby sister needed me and I was right there for her. Her boyfriend was there as well, and I tip my hat off to him for stepping up and accepting his responsibility. Bless his heart y'all, he was so nervous, but it was so cute. I was very proud of my sister she did a very good job and everything went well. One thing I can say, is that it is true that pregnant women are very strong when those contractions hit! While I was holding my sister's hand and as the doctor is telling her to push, she squeezed my hand so tight, my knees almost buckled (LOL) AND my eyes almost crossed (LOL). I was trying my hardest not to scream, as well as pull my hand for her. She needed big sister and I was right there for her. My niece is very beautiful.

After watching all that and making sure that my sister was doing OK, I was on the road heading back to Baton Rouge to finish packing my clothes. I was leaving to head to Israel that Friday. That will be a LONG flight, but I'm excited to be playing for Raanana...

Talk to you guys soon,


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

UNCF Athlete Ambassadors

So much has been happening. So many positive things. I should be playing overseas right now, but I’m taking this time to work with my foundation – H.O.P.E.. We launched the HOPE site, but we’re constantly making improvements to it. I won’t stop until it’s just the way it needs to be, similar to my game.

I’ve been real busy. I had a national press conference, with the help from LSU; I adopted Magnolia Woods Elementary School in East Baton Rouge; I’ve been working out hard; I helped launch a program with UNCF ( called “Athlete Ambassadors for Education” and I’m proud to be one of the inaugural athletes for the program;

That’s the picture from the game where we had an on-court presentation with NBA star Ben Gordon of the Chicago Bulls. I was able to catch up with my boy Tyrus Thomas (another LSU Tiger) while at the game, and we reminisced a bit about LSU. The best part was the day before, where I was able to talk to some high school students about the importance of education and not giving up. I’m always looking for opportunities to reach as many people as possible, and this was just another step in that direction.

The foundation is growing strong, and I’m excited about it. I’ll be launching my scholarship program in January with UNCF, so be on the lookout for that. I’m working on some holiday stuff as well, but I want to keep that a secret for now.

Now with basketball, I wasn’t too happy about the way the season ended, but please believe that I’m working harder now to come back stronger and better as a player. I’m working out every day at home (Louisiana) with my trainer, and I’m feeling pretty good. At any point I could be headed overseas, but that’s all in God’s hands right now. One day at a time.

Well, it’s about that time to get to working out. I’ll be in touch, and I’m working on staying more consistent with my blog. It’s a work in progress!