The Burner Blog: Transitions Pt. I
Dec. 2, 2013
Former women’s basketball player Taylor Burner is playing professionally for Petah Tikva in Israel and will be sharing her experiences with GoSeawolves.org in the “Burner Blog.” Check back for updates.
Hello Seawolves! Taylor Burner here, live from the Middle East. Living the dream would be an understatement when describing my life here in Israel. Being a professional basketball player half way across the world is nothing short of wonderful, but my new life has certainly had its hard times so far.
When first arriving in Israel on Sept. 11, I really had no idea what to expect. I prayed that someone was at the airport to pick me up, because I still was not even sure of my address! Luckily, Izy, the general manager of Bnot Herzeliya, the team I was playing for at the time, was there to greet me and take me to my new home. Because I am an Israeli citizen, I was brought to the team earlier than other Americans, making the next few weeks very lonely. I missed my family and friends more than I had expected and oftentimes found myself questioning my decision. I found myself at many coffee shops, reading books, searching for Wi-Fi, heading to the beach and exploring my new city.
Herzeliya is a city on the coast of Israel. It borders the Mediterranean Sea and is about fifteen minutes from Tel Aviv. Herzeliya Pituach, a small portion of the city, is known for having the best beaches in Israel and some of the richest people, including diplomats and those employed by the government.
Once October came, I was too excited – my Americans were going to arrive any day now! The first to fly in was point guard, Chelsea Hopkins. Chelsea played college ball first at Duke then after injury, transferred to San Diego State where she led her team to two successful seasons. After graduating in May, Chelsea was eventually signed on to the San Antonio Silver Stars where she played at the point. Next to arrive was Nicole Dickson, a small forward from the University of Memphis. Lastly, Jessica Breland, who played at the University of North Carolina and was most recently a player for the Indiana Fever, landed in Israel. My new friends and I had an instant bond and I was, for the first time, excited about my new life.
In mid-October, I decided to switch teams and move to a close city, Petah Tikva. A little more inland from Herzeliya, Petah Tikva is still about 15 minutes from Tel Aviv and is known as one of the biggest industrial cities in the State. On my new team is Michigan State point guard Jasmine Thomas, a guard for the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock in Juanita Ward and UCONN center Kaili McLaren. I live in a beautiful apartment on the fourteenth floor with my three Americans. I feel like I’m at Stony Brook’s West Apartments! My teammates and I hang out a lot, whether we take a day off and go to Tel Aviv or just hang out in the apartment, there is always something to do, not to mention the weather here is perfect!
Though I miss my friends and family an incredible amount, playing overseas will definitely be the most pivotal experience of my life. While here, I am learning to break cultural and language barriers. I am learning to be on my own like never before and also how to communicate with people who live a completely different life than we do in America. While playing professionally overseas was originally not in my plan, I feel incredibly blessed to be doing so and would certainly encourage anyone, especially female athletes, to give it a thought. We will be in touch, Seawolves! Yalla Hapoel Petah Tikva (Let’s go Hapoel Petah Tikva!)!