Summerton's sense of snow
When you answer the phone at Basketball Australia’s office you just never know who might be on the other end, so you can imagine my surprise when I picked up the phone on Monday to find the bubbly voice of world champion defencejobs Opal Laura Summerton on the line.
Knowing that she is currently playing in Italy, what a great opportunity it was to have her update us on her first European season – and on her white Christmas and the big news of Jenni Screen and Neil Mottram’s engagement as well.
Here is what Laura had to say about life in the European Alps…
BA: Firstly, congratulations on the Opals’ nomination for Team of the Year for the upcoming Confederation of Australian Sport Awards. How does it feel to be recognised for your achievements?
LS: It’s a great feeling to know you’ve been part of winning a gold medal for your country and, for me personally, it has also been one of the greatest achievements in my basketball career. Whenever the world championships are mentioned, it brings back terrific memories. I first realised that I wanted to play basketball for Australia when I was a child watching the Opals win their first Bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, so my wish is that our Gold Medal will help other young basketball players strive to play for their country.
How is your season with Italian club side Taranto going?
There are 16 teams in the Italian League and at this stage we are 3rd on the table. It’s very competitive and if you don’t come ready to play every week you will have a tough game ahead. The fans in Taranto are fantastic, they love their sport and it doesn’t matter what the scoreline is, you are guaranteed a great atmosphere. Overall, moving to Italy to play basketball for Taranto has been an amazing experience. When I first arrived here I didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve found it really enjoyable. One of the major reasons why is my boyfriend Tim. He has given up his summer in Australia to be over here with me!
What are your team mates like?
I am fortunate that I have great team mates who are all very talented players. I am one of the youngest in the team and, being my first year in Europe, it’s been nice to learn from those who have more experience. We are a very multicultural team – we have players from Serbia, Croatia, America, Australia, Spain and of course Italy – and my coach has put a lot of thought into his player selection. It makes for a diverse team which, at this stage, has been very successful.
I heard you spent Christmas with Jenni Screen in the Dolomites!
Yes, Tim and I had a great time in the mountains with Screeny and Neil (Mottram) and it was nice to see the beautiful mountains of Italy. Tim, Jenny and Neil were very competitive on the toboggan run, which made for a few great stories over Christmas dinner! It was also nice to be able to celebrate Jenny and Neil’s engagement with them!! Since then, Tim and I have travelled to the Amalfi Coast with his mother and sister. It was the most terrifying road I have ever been on, yet one of the most beautiful coastlines I have ever seen. I felt sorry for Tim, who had three shrieking women in his ear every time he took a corner.
And how is your love life?
I’m not sure if anyone would really be interested in my love life but I’m certainly very lucky to have my boyfriend Tim here with me in Italy. He has made a big sacrifice to put his architecture career on hold for six months, which I really appreciate. As a lot of people know I love my food and he has definitely won me over with his cooking. J
Did you see that your former defencejobs WNBL club Adelaide has made the playoffs?
Yes, I saw on the WNBL website that they made the playoffs and of course they are the team I will be rooting for during the finals. Adelaide have done so well this season, so I hope they can keep it up and take home the premiership. It is extremely sad that they won’t have Erin Phillips on the court with them because of her terrible knee injury, but they do have very talented players and they still have a great team. Good luck Chris and the Lightning girls!
When will we see you again in Australia?
At this stage I’m not really sure when I’ll be home, but I do miss Australia. Hopefully sooner rather than later!