Saturday, 26 February 2011

3 more weeks till season tips off...

Since my last post a lot of things have been happening... My schedule has picked up a little bit and with that time has really been flying bye (which is a good thing when you're gone for 6-7 months). A big part of that is because of how comfortable I feel here so far and how easy its been to fit in. My host family is so easy going and fun to be around that I feel like I'm at home. My teammates are a really cool bunch of guys that are easy and fun to chill with off the court which helps for chemistry on the court. It's all things that you hope for when going to a new situation, and I have it all here, so I'm very thankful for that blessing.

Practices have been going well and with each session we have we get better. We have a scrimmage game tomorrow against the Mandurah Magic and my good buddy Casey Crevelone. I first met Casey on the AIA tour in Perth back in November of 2009. So it should be a fun game and a good measuring point to see where we need to improve as a team. The first weekend of March there is a pre-season tournament called "the blitz" that takes place in Perth every year. All the teams from the league will be there and playing twice a day both Saturday and Sunday. It's a time for scouting other teams as well as seeing where exactly your club is at compared to others in the league. It's also a nice little road trip to further bond as a team, so it should be a good time.

Last weekend I went up to Mandurah (which is just 1 hr north and only 40 mins south of Perth) to visit with Casey Crevelone and Ben Beran (he plays at Lakeside Lightning and also is an AIA guy). I went up Friday night and stayed until Monday morning. Ben came down from Perth Saturday morning and we all headed to the beach to do some boogie boarding. As we were enjoying the water and waves we all of a sudden noticed people from shore waiving at us to come in, so we hurringly scurried out of the water. As Casey and I were making our way in we both took a look back to see why exactly we were getting out. We both saw what WE believed to be a dolphin swimming through one of the waves, BUT supposedly there was an 8ft shark "chasing" the dolphin that we didn't see. SOOOO once everyone was out of the water we then learned that they were shutting down the beach for at least 1 hour to make sure that it would be safe to get back in the water or not. We then decided to play some good old American grid-iron in the sand, which turned out to be a lot of fun since we couldn't be in the water. We ended up leaving after about an hour anyways, but it was a nice beach and boogie boarding was fun while we had the chance to do it.

Ben was albe to stay Saturday night which was awesome because we were able to cook up a nice big meal and get some good "sharing time" in since I haven't really been able to catch up with those guys for a while. I learned quickly that all the AIA play the most ultimate game of 2011, Settlers of Catan!

So of course we started a few games and ended up having to play 4 because we each took a victory as the games progressed, leading right into an epic championship game that ended with Casey winning (but only because of home court advantage really! haha).

Sunday morning Ben had to leave back to Perth because he had practice with his team, but Casey and I didn't so we decided to head off to his church he attends while in Mandurah called Eastlake. It was a nice service with a pretty young feel to it, I enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to finding a good church here in Bunbury I can get plugged into while I'm here, there's plenty of options and I'll probably try a few out to see which best suits me.

As far as for the rest of Sunday, Casey invited me to go to Perth with him and a group of friends to a music festival called "good vibrations". There was going to be around 20-25 artists there performing on 4 different stages!! It sounded like a great time and since I love music so much I said "WHY NOT!?". It was a long day of walking/standing and music but man it was great. I got to see Erykah badu, Mike Posner, Nas, Damien Marley, Phoenix, Yolanda Be Cool, Ludacris, The ting tings and Kelis!! All the acts were great and live music is always fun to be around, so it was an awesome day!

It ended up finishing around 10:30pm and me and Casey were so poooped that we just grabbed about $30 worth of Mackers (Australian for McDonald's) and drove back home to Mandurah for the night. It was a great day to hang with Casey and also meet some new people and obviously get to see so many artists perform that I grew up on!

There are a total of 10 AIA guys in the leauge this season and we're all within about an hour of eachother, so it should be pretty easy to get together to hang out and also keep eachother accountable for our actions over the course of the long season. I know I'm looking forward to having some good solid Christian blokes around to be able to meet up with and grow in my faith. It's really the ulitmate experience as a professional basketball player away from home, family and friends...

There's been some exciting news going on back home in Seattle Washington of course. My family has recently sold our house of 16 years!!! ANDDDDD already found a new one in Lynnwood to move into, which is perfect timing! So that's exciting to hear, I'm just bummed that I'll miss the whole moving process and what not. It'll be pretty cool to come home to a new house though, that will be a first for me. ALSO my cousin Robby and his beautiful wife Katie had their twin girls just about a week or two ago and that was amazing news for the family! I want to give a big shout out to them! Every time I leave I feel like soooooo much happens, its crazy.

I think that's about it for right now. Not tooooooooo much else is going on really. We'll just continue with practices and what not until the official season begins March 18th!! I'm enjoying my time so far and think it will be a great season. Hopefully a few of my friends and family will be able to make the journey out here to visit at some point! That would really be awesome! There's so much to do here on the Westcoast of Australia and some absolutely beautiful beaches. We'll see as time goes on. Much Love to everyone and many blessings.

Remember life is good, but God is great!

Until tomorrow...
"Make it Happen"

Monday, 14 February 2011

Made it in safely!!

Well I've been here for almost a full week now and time is already flying by. I arrived last Tuesday after 29hrs a flights and layovers!! Coach Carl picked me up from the airport and brought me back to my new home for the season. I am staying with a host family for my time in Bunbury. They are the Donovan family, made up of Karen (mom), Russell (dad), James (5yr old son) and Alex (3yr old daughter). That's all of the family who lives here in teh house as well. Russell also has 3 other girls from his first marriage, but they don't live in this house. The Donovan family also hosts students from a foreign exchange program school in town, so at the moment there are 2 Swedish girls staying here as well with the family. They've been hosting people/students over the past 2 years and love doing it. My other American teammate Nick will be staying here too, once he gets in from Germany where he's playing now.

I got to meet most all of my teammates over the first few days as I had my first practice with the team last Thursday. Everything went well and the team looks pretty good. We are definitely young, but we have some good athletes and a few shooters as well. We'll just have to wait and see how the season progresses. All the guys are really cool though and I don't see any problems happening on or off the court between any of the guys, so that's good.

I've gotten to see most all of Bunbury as its not a huge town, but it is quite spread out. The beach is absolutely beautiful and is only 5 minutes down the road from my house.

My schedule will start to pick up pretty quickly as I'm doing 2 schools a week where I will do some coaching, we'll be practicing about 2-3 times a week, and I'll shortly be getting a little side job somewhere probably working about 15 hrs a week. So with all that going on my time will start to fly by. The season will roughly go until August, but could go into September if we can make it to the late rounds of the playoffs. So it's going to be a longggggggggggg season, but it looks as though it's going to be a lot of fun and hopefully some friends will be able to make the trip out to visit me at some point!!

I've already asked around about a good church to go too and there seems to be a pretty good variety of choices. I didn't get to go on Sunday because it was Bianca's 18th Bday breakfast and the whole family was here for that, so I figured I should probably be here as well to meet everyone (plus the the food was awesome!). Bianca is Russell's oldest girl. I'll be sure to get out next Sunday and give one of the church's a try.

Our first official game is on March 18th but we have a few "scratch matches" as they call them before that official start game. We play on the 27th of Feb against another club from the league that's only 20 mins away, so that will be a good game to see where exactly we're at and what things we need to change before we get the season kicked off. There's also a tournament the first weekend of March in Perth that the league hosts where we will get to play a few games over that weekend against some other clubs. So that will be fun to see all the teams there, but also good for us to get some more practice games in before the season starts.

As for now I'm just practicing 2-3 times a week with the team and coaching at 2 schools twice a week. I'll eventually get a job, but that's no rush for right now. I'll just be enjoying my free time while I have it! The weather out here is beautiful and usually in the 80's-90's but with an awesome breeze that helps keep things cool. The sun out here is vicious though and I've already gotten a little bit burned just from being outside without sun tan lotion on. You really have to put it on ANY time you go outside hahaha, I'll learn eventually!

I hope everyone back home is doing well and loving life! I wish only the best for everyone for 2011!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"

Friday, 4 February 2011

3 days and counting till takeoff...

Well its that time again... I was only home for around 1 1/2 months since I had left Darwin and already its time to take off for the next season. I'll be gone from February 6th until roughly around the end up July or possibly end of August/early September. It all depends on how our season goes and if we can make the playoffs or not. I personally want the season to go really well, BUT my brother is getting married on August 20th and I HAVE to be there!!!! So we'll see what happens...

I ended up signing with a team called the SouthWest Slammers that play in the SBL (State Basketball League) for the 2011 season. I signed with them in December when I got back from Darwin. The other club (the Eagles) that I was 99% close to signing with before I left Darwin had some minor issues that we couldn't agree with on the contract so I decided to look else where and ended up with the Slammers (in the same league). I am very excited about being with them and think we will have a good season with the right effort and attitude. They really struggled last season and finished in dead last with a record of 1-25... So anything more than 1 win will be a success for this season hahaha. The team is located in a town called Bunbury which is about 2 hours south of Perth (the main big city) in Western Australia. I will be staying with a host family set up by the club just like in Darwin, which is going to be awesome. Plus I'll still be on my work visa until late June so I will most likely have another side job as I am playing. That really helps with keeping me busy and not thinking about missing home. It's also a great way to meet new people and get out into the community.

I'm really excited for this new opportunity to continue playing and further my pro bball career. I've been training extremely hard since I've been back and am ready to have a big season! It's gonna be a long 6-7 months but that's the job for ya hahaha. Originally I was suppossed to be leaving on the 19th of February, but the team wanted me there as soon as I could make it out SOOOOOOO we changed the ticket to an earlier date. The season is creeping up around the corner and I understand that the more time I have with the team to mesh and bond, the better.

Since I've been home it's just been 24/7 bball for me. With workouts 5 days a week with personal trainers and getting shots up everyday with my buddy Chuck, I feel like I'm more ready than ever to rip this season up! It's been a blessing to be home for as long as I have been, even though it wasn't that long at all!!! It's been great to catch up with friends and family and see how everyones life is going for them. There are sooooo many exciting things going on in my family with new babies being born and weddings around the corner, it's always crazy to come back and hear all the news I've missed out on (even though I stay pretty up to date from my family with things).

I've had a blast being home and I'm going to miss everyone very much, but I love playing basketball and the traveling isn't that bad either :) ... besides this is what I do best! The longer I can put off the 9-5 job the better, at least that's what EVERYONE tells me lol. So until I "have" to start a "real" life I guess I'll just keep on trucking with hoops thing :)

Feel free to hit me up whenever. I have my own skype number 206-855-6868 or just to chat, my screename- Matthew Robert Smith. Email- . And of course I'm on Facebook with all my new pictures and game updates.

I wish everyone a blessed 2011 and thank you for following me on my adventures of being overseas and playing the game I love!

Until tomorrow...
"make it happen"