Sarah Toeaina's professional basketball career has taken her all over the world, and her next stop is right here in Mandurah, signing on to play for Magic this coming season.
Originally from Washington State, with her 'second home' in Hawaii, Sarah will land in Perth and start playing for Mandurah this April. We asked Sarah about her life as a professional basketball player.
Q: When did you start playing basketball?
A: I started playing when I was seven. I can remember finding a ball on a playground during recess. I went home and asked my Dad about basketball. He was my first coach and one of my biggest supporters growing up. I think when he found someone else that loved basketball as much as he did, he just went all in, full throttle with it.
Q: How did your international basketball career kick-off?
A: When I was playing in Hawaii, there was a manager from the men's basketball side who asked me if I wanted to play pro in England. So that helped me get my foot into the professional world.
Then I was able to play for the American Samoa National Team. I took my next step in Sweden, and played in a city called Sodertalje, which took me a whole month to figure out how to pronounce. After COVID hit, my agent had a connection here in Finland, which helped bring me out here. I loved it so much here I came back for a second season.
Q: What is it like travelling so much for your career?
A: It's hard saying bye to the family, but it's amazing to try the different cultures and food, try to learn a bit of the language and just get to know even the different kinds of playing styles from country to country. It's been an honour to have it as my job. All I really have to do is put this orange ball in an orange circle and just enjoy it while I play.
Q: How often do you train?
A: Including weights, we go about three times a day, three days a week. We try to lift atleast two or three times a week, and have at least five to six evening practises and three morning practises. Our main job is just to keep our body in a hundred per cent check, and a hundred per cent health.
Q: What do you like to do outside of basketball?
A: Thanks to quarantine, I've picked up painting. I like to just do it in my free time. It keeps me busy and I can take my focus off of basketball for once and put some paint on a canvas.
Q: Why did you decide on Mandurah for your next stop?
A: The communication aspect was really key. The coach made me feel wanted as a player, and also understood when I couldn't play last summer. I knew it was the right move to make.
Q: What has been your favourite basketball moment?
A: It was being able to play in my motherland back in Samoa, and driving around the island to see where my great grandparents grew up. It was a very humbling experience seeing how much pride they have in just playing basketball. A lot of us can take it for granted when we have a roof over our basketball hoops and a ball that has air in it. It was just something I'll never forget.
Q: Have you ever been to Australia before?
A: No, I haven't but I'm so excited. I have a college teammate I'll be playing against, so I'm really excited, or as they would say it, 'keen' on playing there. And you guys speak English. I haven't been in a country in a while that speaks English.