Tall Ferns forward Penina Davidson is hoping to inspire young women to follow her path by bringing her US College team to New Zealand. Davidson plays for the California Golden Bears and is relishing playing in front of friends and family.
Her advice to young women pursuing a career in basketball is just as strong as her game-play on the court.
Says Davidson, “You won't get an experience like it. Who can say that they can travel abroad, [and] come back to New Zealand with your team?”
The Californian-based College team took time out of their busy schedule to train at Davidson's former stomping ground Rangitoto College. Her excitement was evident on the court.
“It's both exciting and really disorientating actually because the last time I've been back at Rangi (Rangitoto College) was when I graduated in 2013.”
Bears Coach Lindsay Gottlieb says, “I think it didn't really hit her until yesterday when we were about to leave and she said wow, I'm about to see my mum in a few hours, and I'm going to bring my team home.”
According to Gottlieb, Davidson is a natural leader on and off the court and possess all of the skills of a great player.
“Penina's an incredible person. We're fortunate enough to have her on our team and at our University. She's one of our best players. She's now a senior, a leader for us.”
It’s no wonder Davison is a star on the court, when you consider the calibre of players like former NBA star Sean Marks, and current Tall Blacks members Tai Wynyard and Issac Fotu graduating from the North Shore-based college.
“It's just kind of crazy thinking back and seeing our jerseys hanging up and remembering when we all used to just be in the gym or when we used to wait for each other's practices or see each other's games.”
Like every New Zealander living overseas, there's one just thing she wants when she's home.
“I just want my mum to make something for me when I get home.”
The California Golden Bears will wrap up their tour with two more games in Sydney, another place familiar to Davidson.
Photo credit: © Mollie McClure, McClure Images