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From Germany to the USA: An inside look at NCAA recruiting of foreign players

Everybody has dreams, and mine happened to be to play basketball in America. I don’t quite remember who put this idea in my head, but the fact was that no matter what people said, my plan for the next four years was set — I would play basketball in America.

Now, as somebody who was still in high school, I had absolutely no idea how I would get from Germany to America and how to find a team, but I guess back then this problem didn’t seem too concerning to me.

During my high school career I played for the German national team at the European Championship. It was a great experience and it gave me a lot of unforgettable moments.

After the championship was the first time I ever heard of Bluestar Europe and Dan Bowmaker. Bluestar Europe is an organization that helps talented female basketball players from Europe into the USA college system.

I started talking to Dan Bowmaker, who answered all my questions about what it would mean to play in America. He invited me to a tournament in London, which was supposed to help me with the recruiting process.

I went to London for a few days and played in a tournament with some of the best players from Europe. The tournament was where I met Sophie Weckstrom and Chantel Charles for the first time.

Who would have thought my roommate at the Bluestar Tournament in London would be my teammate in Maine later.

After the tournament, college teams started to contact me. I received my first recruiting letters. It was a very exciting time. Even though I never would have admitted it, I was kind of worried that nobody would have an interest in me and my dream of playing in America would be just that — a dream.

I started talking to different college coaches, they either contacted me via Facebook or sent me an email. After a few messages, we eventually started talking on the phone. Like I said, it was exciting, but it was also extremely overwhelming.

The thing is, as a European player you don’t really know what to look for in an American college. Of course you could look at the records of the teams, you could read the newspaper articles, but does that really tell you if you are going to fit into a team or not? You don’t know if you will like your teammates, you don’t know if you are going to be successful. Just think about this for a second. You are leaving your home to go across the world to play for a school you know absolutely nothing about. It’s scary. I am not going to lie to you, I was scared to death.

I don’t quite remember how many different schools I talked to, but I do remember that Maine was the last one to contact me. Coach Amy Vachon sent me messages on Facebook. I never heard of Maine before. I actually had to Google it to even have a slight idea of where it was on the map.

I knew that Sophie and Chantel both were talking with the coaches too and from what the coaches told me I found out that other players from Europe already committed.

I started to get really interested in Maine. There was just something about this school that felt right. I knew that I had to make a decision soon. There were only two schools left I had a real interest in —  Maine and The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). UTEP is a great school with an amazing coaching staff. They were one of the first schools to contact me and I talked to their assistant coach almost every day.

When college coaches really want to convince you to play for their team, they even visit you at your home. Imagine that, they fly all the way from America to Germany, to watch one game or one practice, have one meal with you, meet your family and then they go back.

Both the assistant coach from UTEP and Coach Richard Barron came to Germany. Both were great visits, I had fun and I learned a lot of stuff about the schools.

In the end, I knew Maine was the better fit for me. It was a decision from the heart. Yes, UTEP was a great school, but Maine was the place for me. Maine was the place that I could imagine calling home for the next four years. I knew some of the players that would be there, but what made my decision fairly easy was when Coach Barron asked me if I want to be a part of something special. Heck yes, I want to be part of something special, where do I have to sign?

Are there times when I wondered what would have happened if I signed with UTEP? Sure. But did I ever regret my decision? Absolutely not. I say it again and again, coming to Maine was the best decision I’ve ever made.

I was extremely nervous when it was time to make my way to Maine. It was my first time ever going to the States. It was the first time I would be away from my family for a whole year.

I knew all of those things before I signed, but once I was on the plane everything seemed so much scarier.

Freshman year was somewhat unexpected (who expects to win only four games in their first season), but I believe it laid the foundation upon we build the success of the next three years.

Coming from Germany to the United States was scary, but it was everything I hoped it would be and even more.

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