April 9, 2009
Former Huskie women's basketball player Kristin Weiner talked with current NIU track and field athlete Rachel Pinson for the spring edition of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Newsletter. Weiner is currently playing professional basketball in Spain. You can check out the complete SAAC newsletter here.
Where are you playing basketball right now, and what league are you in?
I am playing basketball in Bilbao, Spain, this year, and I am playing in Liga Feminina 2.
What is your favorite food in Spain?
I love the Spanish tortillas here. They're delicious!
What do you miss most from NIU/DeKalb?
I really miss two things from NIU... of course my teammates and coaches. Looking back, I couldn't have had greater teammates and coaches around supporting me. They were a joy to be around. I also miss the great NIU fans of DeKalb. We had great loyal fans that were with our team no matter what happened and made the experience of being an athlete at Northern that much more enjoyable and memorable.
How has the game changed for you in the professional league you now play in?
The game has changed a little bit. I miss playing college basketball; I would go back and play in a heartbeat. Every coach over here has a different philosophy, and sometimes it's completely different from what I have been taught in the States. I like to think we have more basketball smarts in the States.
How has your role changed on your current team as opposed to how it used to be as a Huskie?
As an American on any team in Europe, you hold a bit more pressure than your other teammates. You are expected to work hard and play well all the time. It's your job, and that's what the team is paying you to do.
Have you adjusted to culture and language barriers?
In any new situation it takes a little time to get adjusted to a new culture and a new language. Right now I only have three teammates who speak English. My coach and assistant coach do not, so it makes communication interesting at times. At the end of the new experience in a foreign country, it's the people I miss the most and the new things and adventures I was able to experience and the friendships I was able to make. You just have to remember to enjoy it.
What is your fondest memory of NIU?
One of my fondest basketball memories was the MAC tournament my senior year, beating Kent State, and getting to the semifinals.
Describe a typical in-season day in Portugal.
A typical day in Portugal last year and a typical day in Spain this year are both pretty similar. Last year I had one day off a week, this year I have Wednesdays and Sundays off. The majority of games are on Saturdays with a few on Sundays. Mon/Wed/Fri practice at 8pm, Tues/Thurs practice at 12:30 and 8pm. There is usually conditioning of some kind before Tues and Thurs practices, with weights after on those days. We have late practices because teammates that are from the area either work or are in school. This year, I occasionally take a free Spanish class in the mornings. Days off include shopping, hanging out with teammates, cooking with teammates, movies, taking a coffee at a cafe and lots of hanging out. There definitely isn't the busy schedule of being a college athlete over here!
Do the fans support your team, and are you and your teammates seen as celebrities?
I would say we have a pretty loyal fan base--even if we lose, they still keep coming back. I live in a community where there are quite a lot of kids, so it's great to have them cheering us on at the games. I don't know if we are seen as celebrities, but for the most part, people around the city know who you are. The kids always like to say hi.
Describe your most interesting experience traveling abroad outside of basketball.
I don't think I could say I have just one interesting experience. This entire experience of playing overseas has allowed me to travel to places I would have never imagined. Last year I lived on an island in the Azores in Portugal, traveled all over Portugal to another island Madeira, traveled to Wales, and this year I travel within Spain to many cities around Barcelona and Madrid. We travel to the Canary Islands and the Baleric Islands of Spain, all because of playing basketball. I really enjoy the travel.
Can you pin point how Coach Carol Owens improved you as both a basketball player and as a person?
I am so lucky to have had Coach Owens for two years of my college experience. She's a great person who cares for all her players and has so much knowledge about the game. Right from the beginning she was dedicated to the NIU women's basketball program. The entire coaching staff put so much time and effort into making us better. They want their players to succeed on and off the court. She was, and still is, willing to help us in any way she can. Being a college athlete at NIU has given me lifelong valuable lessons that I will carry forever.