It was that time of year again when the summer sun had taken its toll on my opaque skin covering it with freckles as I was now back to living in the gym. I had completed my time in North Carolina and made the long trip back to Minnesota about two weeks before shipping off for my fourth season as a professional basketball player. I was able to make a pit stop in Chicago and Madison to see some old friends and meet a couple of potential future employers for when my knees begin to ache and I cannot keep up with the youngsters anymore.
It was great to be back home as I spent time with my parents out in the boonies of Litchfield, Minnesota. I was going to the gym twice a day getting myself in shape and losing the little tan I had worked so hard on all summer. The usual rigmarole of packing was well underway as once again my saintly mother played suitcase Tetris like a true master and helped me pack my life into two bags.
The day of travel arrived very early since my flight left at 8:30 a.m. and my parents now live two hours from the airport. After sharing a lovely McDonald’s breakfast in the car it was time to say goodbye to mom and dad. It was a record this year as zero tears were shed by my mother and it was by far the easiest departure overseas yet.
I had an unused plane ticket from my team last year so I would be flying to Oslo for a day to see some new and old friends as well as earn a small signing bonus for helping the club save money. My first flight to New York was a breeze and I had a very long layover, so I hopped an Uber into the city and visited my college buddy Andrew Lasky. We played FIFA and I got one last taste of Mexico before heading thousands of miles away from the source of authentic Mexican cuisine.
I was able to secure an exit row for the long flight back to Norway. It was an odd feeling as this was the first time I would be coming back to a country I had played in before. I had a feeling of home — which is very uncommon for me — as I stepped off the plane and recognized my surroundings and headed into the city. I met up with a special lady friend who I was staying with and enjoyed a day of just relaxing in Oslo and fighting jet lag.
The next day I would have lunch with my old assistant coach before heading back to the airport and making my way to my final destination of Ostersund, Sweden. After a quick hour flight to northern Norway, my new assistant coach and his special lady friend, who would be driving me to my new home, greeted me at the Trondheim airport and we were on our way. After a quick stop for dinner we finally arrived around 9 p.m. Pulling up to my new apartment complex I was greeted by two people. My team captain and my new head coach.
Now I was not super shocked by the stature of my captain. He is about 6-foot-4 and looks like basketball player. My coach on the other hand was something totally different. I had seen his face via Skype a few months earlier. He has a full on beard, long hair and glasses. What I did not see on Skype was how giant of a human he was or his affinity for accessories. Torbjorn Gherke is his name and he was quite the accomplished player in his heyday. He played all over Europe in many of the top leagues, including the Euroleague (European NBA), which would explain his giantess and possible eccentricities.
After a quick introduction he let me into my apartment and we had a very good conversation about expectations for not only me as a player but also the team this season as well. He has a few quirks but then again so do I. We get along well and I know that he will allow me the freedom to be myself and have a successful season. I am pleased with my decision to join this mad scientist in the far north of the world for a very important season in my basketball career.
On my next blog I’ll talk about the first few weeks of training camp and my day on the golf course.