The first thing on Deanna Tuchscherer’s checklist as she settles in to her new basketball home?
Learn how to say the name of her new basketball home, Zalaegerszeg.
“It’s called Zahaladaburg,” she said with not a lot of certainty and a little laugh. “I’d better avoid saying that to locals as much as possible.”
Be patient Hungarians. She’s a smart person and she’ll get there.
The G.W. Graham grad and UFV Cascades star flew out Saturday, bound for Zalaegerszeg and her first pro hoops gig. The 19-year-old forward is joining NTE NKK in the Nemzeti Bajnokság I/A, the top women’s league in Hungary.
Talking on the phone late last week, the teenager was equal parts excited and nervous.
“I don’t know too much (about Hungary), but I guess I’ll figure it out as I go,” Tuchscherer said. “I did some Googling and it definitely looks like an exciting place and I’ve heard it’s got pretty good basketball.
“I think I’m more excited than anything. There’s definitely going to be some challenges on the culture side of things. Szia is hi in Hungarian, so I do know one word.”
If it sounds like Tuchscherer hasn’t had a lot of time to think about this it’s because the idea of playing hoops in Europe is barely two weeks old.
“It was a pretty quick decision,” she said. “As soon as things started to shut down (due to COVID-19), I knew the season at UFV might not look the way it usually does. All of us (on the UFV women’s basketball team) have been figuring out how to make the most of this year, and when this opportunity was presented — talking to some of my teammates and coaches and my family, it seemed like the best way to develop as a player.”
Tuchscherer will be tested, playing against women who are several years older than her. She’s not been told what her role on the team will be, but she’s hopeful she’ll get lots of floor-time.
“My rookie year at UFV was good preparation for this because I played against women who were older and more experienced than I am,” she said. “I found it exciting getting out of of my comfort zone and being challenged to a different level, and I’m excited to see how I can use this to learn and get better.”
Off the court, the Chilliwackian is better equipped for this adventure than most would be, thanks to her international experience in the Team Canada program. She’s been to Europe before, representing her country in FIBA competition.
“Over the past three or four years, I’ve been to places like India and Belarus, and it definitely helps me now,” she said. “It won’t be my first time in a country where I don’t speak the same language, but basketball is the same wherever you go, so in that sense I think I’ll be okay.”
Tuchscherer will have a few items in her suitcase to help her ‘feel at home.’
“With technology these days, you can call or text someone whenever, so that’ll help me to stay connected,” she said. “As far as my suitcase, I’ll have a G.W. Graham shirt. I don’t know why, but everywhere I’ve traveled I’ve had a G.W. Graham shirt packed, so I’ll do that.”
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