The Wolfpacker

January 2015

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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70 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY DAVID DRIVER M arissa Kastanek, unlike some of her peers, knew that she wanted to play pro basketball overseas after she finished her career at NC State. Unfortunately, that goal worked against her at times while she was in Raleigh. "During my senior year, I was getting stressed about all the pressure on me be- cause I knew I wanted to play profession- ally, and in consequence I started to play bad," said Kastanek, who was well aware that there are fewer opportunities overseas for American women compared to their male counterparts. "My coaches told me to relax and play to have fun because at the end of the day this is a game and it should be fun. "That has helped me so much while I am playing over here in Europe, because even though this is a job, it is still a game and I must have fun while I am playing." The 5-9 guard spent her first professional season in Sweden last year, but moved to another country this year. "I am currently in Strakonice, Czech Re- public, which is about one and a half hours south of Prague," Kastanek said. "My city has about 24,000 people and there is a cas- tle that is from the 13th century. Strakonice has a brewery, Dudak, and they are one of our main sponsors and have invited my team there for a tour. "The popular sports are women's basket- ball, men's handball, men's ice hockey and men's soccer." Kastanek, 24, is one of several former NC State women's basketball players who have continued their pro basketball careers overseas. Others include Nikitta Gartrell (Iceland), Ashley Key (Hungary), Khadijah Whittington (Romania) and Breezy Wil- liams (Finland). Kastanek said her time with the Wolf- pack prepared her for a pro career. "In my junior year, I realized the im- portance of perfecting my shot off of the dribble, and the coaches helped me a lot with drills," Kastanek said. Many European teams practice twice a day, while others play just one game a week. Finding a way to be productive in their free time is a new challenge for many former Division I players. "My daily schedule for Monday, After one year playing ball in Sweden, former Wolfpack player Marissa Kastanek is currently in Strakonice, Czech Republic, which is about one and a half hours south of Prague. PHOTO COURTESY STRAKONICE NO EUROPEAN VACATION Former NC State Hoopsters Continue Their Careers Overseas

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