Sami Whitcomb

Life and Basketball in Australia

Sami Whitcomb
Life and Basketball in Australia

Australia was always a pipe dream; a warm, delicious pipe dream, and one that had long seemed unlikely. However, the elusive island with stunning beaches, big cities, and a language I could understand (basically) had yet to be on the cards for me after two long, cold seasons in Europe. I’ll admit it, I was initially seduced by the accent. And the Kangaroos. And the possibility that maybe the Kangaroos had accents. Dream big people. But ultimately, it was once again basketball creating this chance and delivering this dream. I had finished my second European season unpredictably early when the opportunity to embark on a journey down under emerged. It was fate and it chose the perfect time to step in. 

Three days later I hopped on a plane and found myself immediately in awe of Perth, Australia. The beaches, the people (yes, their amazing accents) and the beaches. Honestly, it didn’t take long to fall in love with this place. It took even less time to appreciate the quality of basketball throughout Australia, which I had temporarily forgotten was my purpose. Small oversight. I was playing in the WA State basketball league and I was loving it, but it was semiprofessional and I had hoped to eventually play my way into the WNBL, a league that saw players like Penny Taylor and Lauren Jackson become world class athletes, before having remarkable WNBA careers. It might have been far-fetched, but I hoped their national league could catapult me into my national league. Dream big, right?

To say that my path to the WNBL was slow would be an understatement. It was altogether dormant. After two seasons in the state league and no interest, quite literally, it was looking like a lost cause. Ordinarily this might have been off-putting, if it hadn’t been for the amazing new people in my life and the lifestyle I had grown to love in Perth, annnd those darn beaches. Life in Australia was just simple. People were incredibly welcoming and engaging and I was no longer handcuffed by a language handicap that cultivated my crippling co-dependence in Europe. I could do things on my own, but more importantly, I had built some amazing relationships that went beyond the lines on the court. It was fun, it was challenging and it was just the experience I needed to develop my game.

It wasn’t until the end of my third season in the WSBL that the WNBL showed interest. And by WNBL, I mean one team…the only Perth based team in the league. But one was all I needed, and to be frank, I would have paid them to let me play, though thankfully, it didn’t come to that. We had a really exciting first season as the rebranded Perth Lynx. I loved playing with those girls, but what I loved most about playing in this league was the competition. The quality of players was so high that I either had to step up or get stepped on. I really didn’t want to get stepped on. That didn’t seem fun. It wasn’t easy. I had plenty of shocking games and moments of doubt, but I also got better every day playing with my teammates and competing against some of the best in the world.

The last two seasons in the WNBL have been defining for me and have genuinely helped me to develop personally and professionally. And just as I had hoped, the WNBL served as a platform for me to chase my dream all the way back to Seattle. And that takes us to the present. I'm one week into training camp with the Storm and loving every minute of it. I dream big, and for now, I'm satisfied in knowing that dream is still alive. 

Photo courtesy of WNBL

Photo courtesy of WNBL

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"remember, that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure."

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