Players' Voice: The girl from little Belgium who won it all
EKATERINBURG (Russia) - I cannot believe that only three weeks ago, I was in Washington D.C., celebrating a WNBA championship.
What. A. Month.
I was so overwhelmed by all the feelings. You see, I am usually a very calm person but those Finals, they got me stressed! During the last few games, there was this permanent feeling of butterflies in my stomach and all I was thinking about was basketball, scouting, plays and so on.
I knew that there was a big chance of us becoming champions, but I never really wanted to say it out loud, so as not to jinx it - or something like that. I barely even wanted to dream about it. When I started picturing the 'what if' scenarios during the night, my heart would start racing and I woke up, desperately trying to think about something else.
Most of the times I started playing Candy Crush until I felt asleep again. I must've passed about 100 levels during those nights.
When Game 5 was over and we finally knew we were champs, so much weight just fell off my shoulders and I felt all the emotions from the past weeks just flying away. After going so deep and really giving everything I had, there was nothing but happiness left - and pride. I have never had a moment in my life where I wanted something so badly and where I felt the emotions so intensely like I did during those Finals.
A few moments later, I was named the WNBA Finals MVP (I didn't even hear that as I was hugging everyone in the back). I still can't believe that I, someone from little Belgium, who once had a dream to just play in the WNBA, was able to accomplish something like this. I sometimes still think that I still don't realize it 100 percent.
I can only hope that kids use this as an example, that they see that anything can happen. Just love what you do and work for it! Chances will come and then grab them with both hands!
"I HAVE NEVER HAD A MOMENT IN MY LIFE WHERE I WANTED SOMETHING SO BADLY."
What makes everything even more beautiful to me, is that all this happened with the team where it all started for me. I went there when I was 19 years old, saw people come and go, but this year, the Washington Mystics are truly a definition of TEAM: The players, the staff, the organization and the fans are one big family that supports each other and wants to fight for each other.
The way back to Belgium was also really nice. On the flight back, the stewardesses brought me the Belgian newspapers. So, there I was, sitting on the plane and looking at my own face. It was kind of awkward. There were also people waiting for Kim (Mestdagh) and I at the airport.
It was also really cool to see how many people from Belgium, Europe, or just from all over the world were supporting us. I was not able to answer all the messages, but I know that I saw them all!
Those people that have been there since day one in Ieper, the town where I grew up. It was crazy to hear from the people in my town that they were waking up especially to see our games. We got a lot of compliments, but the nicest thing to hear was that people, who had never watched a game before, told me they were basketball fans now because of what we achieved.
It was so great being back home, even if it was only for a week. I got to eat some good Belgian food, to see some friends and to sleep in my own bed. It was enough to re-charge myself and to be ready for my next adventure. (I also want to take this chance now to apologize to my mom for not cleaning my room and leaving her with my unpacked bags. But who on earth can do all that in 7 days?).
I am now back with Ekat. I have now started my fifth season with UMMC, so next to Washington DC, I dare to say I have another 'home away from home'. I honestly feel like I never left, I know that is crazy after everything that happened this summer, but last year we had such a great atmosphere in the team and it had not changed one bit when I came back.
"WE SET THE SAME GOALS: TO WORK HARD AND BE THE BEST VERSION OF OURSELVES."
I am looking forward to this season. We set the same goals like we always do: to work hard and try to be the best version of ourselves and to try to win the Russian Championship and EuroLeague Women again. That really does sounds like a good plan to me! Also my personal plan? To learn Russian!
This year is going to be one full of challenges: From Ekat, the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers, the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments and then hopefully in the summer - well, you know I am trying not to jinx it. So, I won't say it out loud! Fingers crossed!
I will try to keep you updated through the season and will give you a little peek into our kind of life! If there is something you want to know about me or if you have ideas on something I should write about, let me know!
A star with the Belgian Cats on the global and European stage where she has received a string of individual accolades, Emma is also a multi EuroLeague Women champion with UMMC Ekaterinburg of Russia and the 2018 Final Four MVP. In 2019 she also added to her growing popularity Stateside when she not only became a WNBA champion with the Washington Mystics, but was also crowned the Finals MVP. Now she is showing her skills off the court by giving us all an exclusive insight into her life as an elite baller.
You can also follow Emma on IG via @emma_meesseman