Interview with Jolene Johnston (02.02.2006)

Welcome to your new club, and thanks for taking the time to allow us to introduce you to the readers of our homepage. You came to us at (very) short notice, and it might be of some interest to learn how the contact came about.
Short term changes are nothing terribly unusual to a professional player, my season in Puerto Rico had just ended, and on my return to Albany, N.Y. for Thanksgiving I contacted my agent about an opportunity to play in Europe. This poses absolutely no problem since the Puerto Rican season is very short and ends in late Fall.
Did you have any preferences for the European club ?
Yes and no ! I didn’t know all that much about basketball in Luxembourg, but my College contacts helped me there. At Siena College, N.Y. I worked together with Melanie Hawker, one of your former American players, her advice was very valuable to me.
So you knew about the level of play and our championship. Were you aware of the position you would have to play ?
Certainly, I’m quite ready to adapt to a team. Puerto Rico for example allows two American (foreign) players in the team, here in Luxembourg there is only one. There is a different level of responsibility for the professional player, maybe a leadership role to be taken, but this is not up to me to decide. The team and the coach function along their own lines, I am a team player, my emphasis is on competitiveness at all levels. Teams must be able to rely on all players.
It’s early days to position yourself in the team. Have your first games given you the results you expected ?
It is early days, but so far my expectations have been met.
Did you have a straightforward basketball career?
Yes, more or less. I gave softball a try, but a broken ankle put an end to that. This was at the age of six/seven, but from there I mainly did basketball. Coaches showed some interest but I must say that my size was a handicap, at 5ft 9 you must work that extra bit harder to make the team. My coaches were essential, they allowed the positive attitude to come across, it was up to me to compensate by working harder. Self-confidence is essential.
So, you played college basketball before you moved on to university.
That’s roughly it. After I took my major in sociology I had a first basketball assignment in Israel which did not quite work out. I then became head-coach at Scotia High School, N. Y. where I did team and individual coaching.
Individual coaching is something we don’t really have, how does it work ?
Well, players at your college may want further practice and they will contact you personally for individual coaching. Sometimes it’s the parents, sometimes the coach of a particular team. You may use the facilities at your college, or any other indoor or outdoor grounds, I used the local YMCA facilities for example.
What are your immediate plans ?
We’ll see how the championship develops and then there is my Puerto Rican championship to look forward to. There are semi-finals to be played with the best of five progressing.
So, you will be playing in Puerto Rico again. Did the switch from the Caribbean to Luxembourg not pose too much of a problem ?
Puerto Rico is a nice place to be, but I’m used to colder climates up in New York State. Luxembourg is not so much different, the drizzle outside reminds me of home, and the people here in Luxembourg are very friendly and helpful. The people in the team are a great help, too.
Any immediate or long term plans apart from that ?
Well, I intend to fly back home in the near future, I’m the youngest of four children in the family, and I’m also really looking forward to seeing my nephew again ; then there is the prospect of playing the autumn season in Puerto Rico and of course in the long term there are jobs to be considered.
Any plans there?
Coaching is obviously an option, but my sociology studies made me think of going into law enforcement or maybe forensic work. We’ll have to see.
All well planned, looks promising. Well, we would like to thank you for your time and patience. We really enjoyed interviewing you tonight. All the best for you personally and your team.
It’s been a pleasure, thank you, too.