Posted: Sep. 15, 2018 8:30 pm
Jordan Frericks is getting used to the cuisine and learning the language. She’s growing accustomed to the physical play, and she’s getting used to not being near family for the first time in her life.
But as she adjusts to her new life as professional basketball player in Germany, she’s still struggling with one thing.
“They all drive stick shifts,” she said. “I couldn’t drive one when I got here, but I’m learning. I just took my first trip by myself using a stick, and that was an experience. I always get so nervous. I can’t stand that sound (of hearing the gears grind).”
Frericks hopes that’s the biggest problem she faces overseas.
Now 23 years old, the former Quincy Notre Dame and University of Missouri basketball star signed a professional contract on Sept. 2 with Herner (pronounced hair-nay) Turn Club in Herne, Germany. The team is in the first division of the Women’s Basketball Bundesliga.
Frericks, who graduated from Missouri in May, earned second team All-Southeastern Conference honors in 2015-16 and 2017-18. She played a key role in Missouri’s 2016 and 2018 NCAA Tournament teams, averaging double-digit scoring figures and leading the team in rebounding both seasons. She averaged 18.5 points and 7.6 rebounds for the Tigers last season. She missed the 2016-17 season because of a knee injury.
Frericks, 23, closed her career as one of 35 Missouri players to score 1,000 points, finishing 11th all-time at 1,433 points. She also ranks second in career rebounds (1,032).
Herne is in northern Germany, about an hour north of Cologne and about 21/2 hours from Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
“I’ve always wanted to try the experience (of going overseas), and with my major being architecture, it’s an opportunity to explore other cultures,” Frericks said. “It’s a two in one experience for me.”
Frericks attended a professional combine in Columbus, Ohio, in March during the weekend of the NCAA Women’s Final Four. With help from Robin Pingeton, her coach at Missouri, and agent Eric Wiesel, Frericks decided playing in Germany was the best choice.
Make no mistake, however. Her dream would be to play in the WNBA.
“I was pretty much open to anything,” she said. “Getting into the WNBA is was my first goal, but I (went to the combine) to see where I stood.”
If she wasn’t working on her game this past summer, Frericks was reaching out to other female professionals like Camp Point’s Ali Schwagmeyer, who has played in Germany, Spain and Australia, and Sophie Brunner, a Freeport native who played briefly in the WNBA and played in Italy in 2017.
“They helped me with passport information, visa information, anything they could throw at me,” she said. “They also told me about the differences in the game. It’s more physical, they have a 24-second shot clock, and a lot of things Americans do (with the ball) they consider travelling over here, so I’ve had to keep an eye out on my footwork.”
She flew into Germany on Aug. 17, and she’s been practicing twice a day in anticipation of Herner’s first game on Sept. 29. It’s her first trip outside the borders of the United States.
“My language here is not good,” she said. “I actually took four years of Spanish in high school, but (not knowing German) hasn’t hurt me yet. Once you’re in the culture, you recognize more things.
“Going to the grocery store is easy, but restaurants are pretty difficult. We have translating apps, so we’re pretty good at taking pictures and figuring it out. You miss simple American things, like (electrical) outlets. They’re all different over here. You have to buy adapters for everything. It’s silly.”
She’s looking forward to seeing her parents when they come to Germany in October.
“I thought there would be more homesickness,” she said. “There have been ups and downs, but it’s been really enjoyable.”
The ultimate goal remains playing back in her home country.
“How long I’ll do this, I’m not sure,” Frericks said. “I’m not sure how my body is going to feel. I kept telling myself through high school and college to just come every day and try to show up and work hard. God’s given me some talents I’ve been able to use, and they’ve opened so many doors for me, like this experience.
“I’ll see what comes. It would be amazing to play in the WNBA, but if it’s not the plan, that’s OK.”