By: Hannah Newman
The players of the Rider women’s basketball team come from a variety of countries—including Canada, Germany, Sweden and The Netherlands—all to pursue their passion for the sport.
Each member of the team prioritized basketball in their early teenage years. Their young and wondrous minds led them to the court they now call the home base for the family they found in the United States.
As the thought of becoming an excelling player evolved in their heads over time, they knew in order to turn their dreams into reality, they would have to come to the United States. It was not long after arriving when they knew that coming to the U.S. was the right fit for them, and their ambivalence quickly turned into certainty. The women agreed that their passion filled the distance gap from home and opened the door for a new feeling of independence.
Raphaela Toussaint, a sophomore criminal justice major from Canada who is a forward for the team, shared how seeing other places in the world can change an individual’s feeling toward life.
“I think it is important for people to see different parts of the world as early as they can because it can give them a different perspective on life and show them what they take for granted. It can also teach people a lot about different countries and cultures, allowing them to learn, grow and become a better person,” said Toussaint.
The thought of being across the world can develop anticipation within students pulling them away from becoming precisely who and what they want to be in life. Distance has tested students’ strength of independence and ability to work efficiently in a foreign setting considering that they were completely blinded to the new normality they will be finding themselves a part of.
Jessika Schiffer, a junior guard and a graphic design major from Germany, discussed how a foreign education experience is one of a kind.
“I would say take the opportunity because you learn so much about yourself and other people. Even just one year away from home can teach you so much that you can’t learn any other way,” said Schiffer.
Anna Ekerstedt, a junior forward and a psychology major from Sweden, talked about how living overseas contributed to her personal growth.
“If I compare myself to the person I was three years ago, first coming to the states to now, I am more independent than I ever was. … I remember when I was younger I could never imagine not being home for a time like Christmas, but after three years of doing it, the experience has strengthened my independence,” said Ekerstedt.
Sofie Bruintjes, a sophomore psychology major from The Netherlands, explained how living in a different country has shaped an appreciation for her home.
“Being away from home definitely makes you value the small things in life. Things like having dinner with your family every night or watching a movie with your sister makes you realize how big the small things really are in life. The time away really allows you to appreciate every moment you have with the people from home. Every moment you get is valuable,” said Bruintjes.
Although the distance from home can emphasize its value, it also develops an understanding of what defines a family and how it can be found through other means besides blood.
“I would also say that being on the team and being around everyone with such a passion for basketball fills that gap of distance from family.” Said Schiffer, “The team is its own family. You always have people around you to go to.”