Photos Courtesy of BG74 Veilchen Ladies and Skallagrímur Körfubolti Facebook pages
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Living in a foreign country for the first time has its challenges. What eases the significant life change though is the chance to realize a dream. For 2015 Northern Arizona women's basketball graduates Raven Anderson and Erikka Banks, their lifetime goals of playing professionally were attained and achieved with their first seasons behind them.
Anderson and Banks recently returned to the states capping a whirlwind past year which started with both receiving their degrees from NAU, included signing their first professional contracts and ending with accomplished seasons in Germany and Iceland respectively.
Just as she was during her career as a Lumberjack, Anderson was a force to be reckoned with in the paint during her first season with Germany's BG74 Veilchen Ladies. She nearly averaged a double-double with 12 points and eight rebounds per game and was a major reason her team advanced all the way to the semifinals in their league.
"I had expectations and Germany surpassed all of them," Anderson said. "It's a great country with great people and I got to play for a really great team. The town loved basketball and we had amazing support from the fans. It took me a while to adjust, but at the end of the season I had no regrets."
Similarly, Banks took on a leading role on her team with Skallagrímur in Iceland. Behind averages of 19 points and eight rebounds per game, her club won both the league and playoff championships and finished the season with a nearly flawless 18-2 record.
"What I liked the most was being surrounded by players who just really love the game and want to win," Banks said. "It was different playing overseas because being an American player, they want you to be selfish with the ball. They want you to be the go-to player, but the coaches were great; everything was great. I really enjoyed it."
Whether it was adjustments on the court or general lifestyle changes that come with living in unfamiliar territory, the two All-Big Sky performers excelled in their first taste of post-college life. More than just teammates, the inseparable friends pushed through struggles and came out of it knowing that their lifetime of hard work proved to be rewarding.
"Going in, I didn't have any expectations," Banks said. "I was just anxious to play and get on the court. I got to live my dream and it makes me feel good because I achieved something I always wanted to do. Now that I've got the experience, I'm planning on playing for as long as I can."
"When I stepped on the court, I felt like a professional player," Anderson added. "Erikka and I worked so hard to get here, so it's nice to come back and see how proud people are of us. I'm proud of myself and I'm proud of Erikka. We did something we both really wanted."
For now, Anderson and Banks will enjoy their summers back home in America while contemplating their next moves. Both fully intend on furthering their professional careers and anxiously await seeing where their dreams take them next.