Sarah Toeaina is one of the best foreign reinforcements of this season in the Women’s Basketball League, where the importance of American players is enormous. “He’s been what we hoped for and a little more.”
From Kouvola Hawaii has more than 10,888 miles of bird glaciers as the crow flies. Sarah Toeaina both places are familiar, as basketball has taken him from his homeland off the west coast of the United States via Honolulu to Kouvola.
Now Toeaina is the soul of the Kouvottari game in the Women’s Basketball League, and at the same time one of the best foreign reinforcements in the series where American players play a very important role. Toeaina is among the top five in both the point average (22.4) and the rebound average (12.1).
“He’s been what we hoped for and a little more,” glows Kouvottari’s head coach Joonas Frimodig.
Thousands kilometers can accommodate several stopovers.
Sport has been a big part of Toeaina’s life since birth. His mother played volleyball at the University of Hawaii, and his father progressed from the same university team all the way to the San Francisco 49ers training camp until the injury ended his budding career. Two of Toeaina’s cousins made it to the NFL.
Toeaina’s little sister Alyx competed at the university in throwing sports, and Toeaina herself had gifts especially in the triple jump. In addition to athletics and basketball, the range of sports included volleyball until the university’s doorstep.
The exceptional success in three sports prompted the Seattle Times newspaper to select Toeaina in 2014 as the state’s female athlete of the year. At university, however, Toeaina wanted to focus on one sport instead of constant variation. He says the victory came from the options “true love” i.e. basketball.
“This would be a great person for you.”
Hawaii the university is a kind of exotic freak in NCAA college sports. It is the only full-fledged member of the highest division, the First Division, outside the continental United States, and the flight to the mainland takes at least five hours.
The national team represented by Toeaina is also quite exotic. Through his family roots, he was represented on the American Samoa national team, and immediately Toeaina’s first national team tournament led to a gold medal as captain of his team at the 2019 Pacific Games.
The idea of professionalism really only arose in the last year of college, even though the coaches had talked to Toeaina about the topic before. In Europe, Toeaina first ended up in Britain and the English industrial city of Sheffield.
The transition to a professional can be described as at least successful, as he was immediately selected as the most valuable player in the WBBL league in his first season.
“You’ve brought a huge amount to the club on and off the field. You have supported, coached and judged. Your impact has been great, and that’s why juniors want to be like you, ”Sheffield Hatters’ Twitter account praised after the election.
Last during the season Toeaina played in Sweden and changed agents after the season. The new agent had previously established contact with Kouvottari from the team’s previous center Claire Lamunun through, and when Lamunu changed the landscape, the agent offered to replace Toeaina.
“This would be a great replacement for you and an equally great person,” was the agent’s sales speech.
The deeds have also responded to speeches. The importance of reliable agent relationships should not be underestimated, as players are offered to clubs along huge routes enormously.
“Candidates come to email, Facebook and Whatsappi every day,” Frimodig says.
“I often ask myself active and candidates. When a player needs it, I will be the first to contact familiar agents with whom we have worked together before. ”
Decision making a large amount of video material is now available to support it. Frimodig says that he watched Pereaina’s extracts in perhaps less than ten professional games. However, significant attention came from Hawaii’s university games.
“He played at a different pitch in college, as a winger. It was important to know that he was so versatile that he was able to do it, ”Frimodig says.
When looking for players for different venues, the video is expected to show different things. For assists, for example, Frimodig says players who aren’t basically assists are eliminated right away: players who like to throw but don’t know how to play the game properly.
However, not everything can be seen on video, even if the footage rotates for the rest of its life.
Even if the player has been discussed remotely before the contract is made, it is impossible to predict the player’s adaptation to the team and the cold and dark winter in Finland. Especially those who play their first professional year in Europe can easily find it difficult to adapt.
“For them, a cold and dark Finland in the middle of winter can be quite a tough place,” says Frimodig.
Thousands of kilometers of home and family have also made Toeaina feel homesick, although communication is easier today than ever. He says he was sadly relieved only this year, in his third professional term.
“In previous seasons, homesickness struck more often. Our team is close and the atmosphere is homely, which has definitely contributed to the matter, ”says Toeaina.
“A year in Sweden also helped me get used to the culture and climate. However, I have never experienced such cold weather as this winter. ”
“My college coach used to say that pressure creates diamonds.”
With Kouvottar there are two U.S. players this season, with the Women’s Basketball League rules allowing a maximum of three foreign players to count.
While foreign reinforcements are always expected to be the driving forces of the team as well, Toeaina tries not to take the pressure off on success.
“My college coach used to say that pressure creates diamonds. However, I personally feel better when I feel relaxed, ”he says.
In addition to Toeaina, the team’s key players include a back player Aliyah Collier. According to Frimodig, the intention was originally to obtain a third reinforcement as the season progressed, but the realities set by the corona situation have forced this idea to be buried.
“Economic terms are going,” Frimodig regrets.
According to Frimodig, the monthly salary of Kouvottari’s foreign confirmations varies between one thousand and two thousand dollars, ie in euros between 800 and 1,650 euros. She estimates the salary level to be roughly the same on all Women’s Basketball League teams.
“We also have a contract for housing, one meal a day and plane tickets. Sarah and Aliyah will also have access to the car, ”Frimodig says.
Towards a championship with domestic forces
Women The Eagle Bear, which holds the top position in the basketball league, is a kind of exception that strengthens the rule.
PeKa have won all 14 games of the season, although it has only one American player in the line-up, winger Zykera Rice. The team body consists of experienced domestic national team players, many of whom come from Kotka.
“They are used to playing abroad. Now, due to the corona, there have been fewer venues, so we got domestic tops, ”says PeKan’s head coach. Roope Mäkelä.
Mäkelä says that originally the plans were to get another American player in the middle of the season, but an opportunity was taken for that place after the Eagle national team backer opened. Anissa Pounds. The club no longer has the resources for further reinforcements, but even today Peli-Karhut is by far the favorite to become a champion.
Very most clearly the Americans rely on the Vimpelin Veto, which is seventh in the series. The South Ostrobothnian team of about 2,800 inhabitants is the only one to play the maximum number of foreign players this season as well.
Responsibility is indeed enough. Of all the minutes of play, the Americans have accumulated about 54 percent when the theoretical maximum is 60. In turn, they have made nearly three-quarters of the bet points.
The Torpan Boys and Tampereen Pyrinnö, who hold the last two places in the series, have no American players in their ranks. The third group to rely entirely on domestic forces is the academy team HBA-Märsky, which is currently in sixth place.
ToPon manager Jussi Syrjänen says their situation is due to financial reasons. Even last season, ToPo had only one confirmation from foreigners, and Syrjänen states that wins and losses are not everything for the club.
“For us, developing young players is a thing anyway. On the side we can still do, and that is why it is extremely important that the games continue. “
“I think it would be utterly idiotic to go out to make big financial investments because this season that money won’t come back anywhere. In any case, we do not want to endanger the club’s other activities, such as junior activities, ”Syrjänen says.