Joellen How accepts basketball scholarship from Wagner College in New York
30 Mar 2017
Taranaki basketballer Joellen How has traded the land of the laid-back for the hustle and bustle of New York after accepting a full scholarship to attend Wagner College.
After finishing her final year at New Plymouth Girls' High School in 2016, How was contacted by the Staten Island school and, after a few video chats, was offered a four-and-a-half-year scholarship worth upwards of $50,000 per year.
"In December the school emailed me and it kind of went from there," How said.
"I didn't have very much time to decide. They wanted me to go over in January when I hadn't been planning on going over until August."
How decided to accept the offer and moved over in January. Being on a scholarship for basketball, the school wanted to get her over earlier so she could red-shirt the second half of the 2016-17 season.
In American college sports, red-shirt students are essentially part of the team but cannot play. It is often a move used to allow players from overseas to get accustomed to the way the game is played before getting amongst it.
So, while How has been at the school since January and has trained and worked out with the group, her freshman year with the team won't begin until next season.
How was one of three red-shirts on the Wagner team this year.
"It's quite good because next season it's like we're a bit ahead of the other freshmen."
How said there was a big difference in how serious it was compared to in Taranaki, and it took a bit of getting used to leaving her room at least 40 minutes before training when she was used to showing up about 10 minutes beforehand.
"Sometimes I can be away from my room for up to five hours. Some days we have our training, then we play some pick-up and some of the boys come in, then we'll go do lift - which is things like weights.
"It was a bit of a shock at first."
Playing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) division one competition, Wagner, known by their nickname the Seahawks, struggled to a 4-25 regular season record this year.
How said she was looking forward to helping the team improve that record next season.
"We got a new coach last season and we're in a bit of a rebuilding phase. But as our coach keep saying, we have to trust the process."
When she hasn't been on court, How said she had managed to do some exploring through New York, with a free ferry running from Staten Island to Manhattan.
"Yeah, Times Square is a little bit different to Taranaki."