As many of you have heard, I recently pursued my dream of playing professional basketball. Although you won’t be seeing me in the NBA anytime soon, I somehow found my way into a professional league - in Israel. The past 8 months of living in the Motherland have been anything but ordinary. Allow me to give you a glimpse into my world and explain the bizarre and sometime comical lifestyle of international basketball.
Just a quick backstory of how this came about. After playing college basketball, I decided I wanted to be a coach. I quickly found college coaching stressful and unfulfilling and needed a break from the game. I moved to Philadelphia to work with my brother and slowly distanced myself from the basketball community. I was living a normal corporate life and I was bored beyond belief! After years at a desk job, at the ripe age of 27, I had a realization that I didn’t want an ordinary life. I hadn’t played competitively for 5 years but something inside was challenging me to play again. Step by step, nature unfolded opportunities for me. With a few connections, 8 months of rigorous workouts, and a little luck, I found myself on a flight to Israel. Within 2 weeks I was signed to a professional team.
So there I was… the only 27 year old rookie in the league. To be honest, I was a bit stunned by the professional lifestyle. I guess my teammates never learned that “rest is the basis of activity” or that it’s Ayurvedic to be asleep before 10pm.
Overall, the experience was incredible. Israel is a very scenic and beautiful country. I lived in the mountains 5 minutes from the beaches of Haifa. Israeli people are extremely friendly and at no point did I ever feel danger. One of my favorite examples of the cultural difference was that our pre- and post-game meals were only pita and hummus. The occasional falafel was thrown in the mix… but only if we won!
I am blessed and lucky to have lived out my childhood dream. Looking back now, I am amazed at how my one single thought,“I’d like to play again” came to fruition. Hopefully my journey can inspire others to take a leap of faith towards their passions. As we were all taught from an early age, ultimately, life is about personal growth and achievement. What I have learned from this experience is that we define our own success and what ultimately fulfills us. Life, goals, dreams and passions are very personal and we all have the right to define ourselves.
I was recently in Fairfield and had the opportunity to speak with the Maharishi School Upper and Middle school students. I can remember being that age and having alumni come and talk to us and it was quite funny being the one on stage. I had a realization during the speech that we all have a responsibility to help mentor and guide the MSAE youth. We have been in their shoes and know what it takes to succeed. Whether it’s a weekly Facebook chat or one on one hang out or coaching session, we can help them grow into motivated and balanced individuals. I am very proud to have grown up in our unique community and look forward to hearing about other people’s accomplishments.
As fate would have it, my journey will continue later this month as I head to Australia to play again. I will continue to chronicle my experiences in my blog “The 27 Year Old Rookie”. Feel free to come along for the ride. You can also see a video of my game in Israel.
Jaya Meuhlman, 11th grade daughter of Mac and Ellen Meuhlman, has been accepted at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy in New York City for a 5-week summer...
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