espnW: Ticha Penicheiro
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For those of you who don't know, I announced my "divorce" from the game of basketball this past summer and on Sept. 22, 2012, I played my last game.
Basketball was just like a marriage: love, time consuming, commitment, sacrifice, hard work, laughs, tears ... a ring was even involved (a WNBA championship in 2005).
But after a lifelong commitment to Spalding, it was time to part ways. And even though I'm somewhat sad about my separation, I'm truly like a wild, single woman ready to enjoy my freedom! :)
Immediately following the WNBA season, I flew home to Portugal to attend my brother's wedding -- a beautiful ceremony on a bright, sunny day. It meant the world to me to be able to be present on this special day.
After three weeks of catching up with my family and friends, eating my mom's food and babysitting my nephew while the newlyweds were enjoying their honeymoon in the Maldives, I flew back to the States. First, I made a quick pit stop in Sacramento and then I took my talents to South Beach to kick off my retirement plan. Growing up on the coast of Portugal (Figueira da Foz) I have always been a beach bum, in love with sun rays, waves and sand, so Miami is one of my favorite places in the whole world. I just love the mix of cultures and ethnicities -- the warm weather and clear blue waters.
I must admit I was kind of worried after a few weeks away from basketball that I was going to have to deal with a thing called boredom. But I was able to find enough activities to keep me busy, and I can actually confess doing NOTHING was, almost, at the top of the list. I actually enjoyed not setting an alarm to wake up, not having an agenda and just being a free spirit and taking in the day, as the day came.
In between my couch potato ways, I tried to stay active and find fun activities to stay in shape: yoga, walking, biking, swimming, surfing, beach volleyball and tanning!
I guess I take this opportunity to thank my volleyball instructors: Ruth Riley, Jenny Boucek and Kelly Schumacher. I truly enjoyed the experience and will be ready to take over the courts upon my return.
Just because I retired, doesn't mean I've lost my love for the game of basketball. Being in Miami gave me an opportunity to watch my favorite NBA team: the Miami Heat. And boy, oh boy -- LeBron James, wow! To be in the building and watch him play live just makes you realize how amazing he is: his strength, speed, IQ, court vision and leadership are second to none.
I can assure you I have been enjoying my time away from the court, but also have been reassured basketball will ALWAYS be a huge part of my life. I can't go a day without checking the NBA scores, watching "SportsCenter" or even finding links to watch my WNBA homies playing overseas. I have also taken the time to give it some thought and soon I will share what is in store for the next chapter in my life.
Right now I'm sitting on a plane heading to Turkey. I played for Galatasaray last year and really fell in love with Istanbul. I will be able to connect with former teammates, old and new friends and, of course, watch a little basketball. (I told you I can't stay away for long). Then, it's time to head back to Portugal to spend the holidays with my family. Another perk of being retired is the fact I have more time to enjoy my family and my country.
There's no better time to be with your loved ones than Christmas. I will definitely be wearing that red sweat suit and long, white beard to play Santa because my nephew is expecting Santa to make an appearance and drop off some toys!
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a 2013 full of joy and happiness. If you want to keep up with my retirement adventures, you can always follow me on twitter @tichapenicheiro. I appreciate your support throughout the years and I encourage you to continue to support the WNBA. The future is bright and the 2013 season should be an AMAZING one!