Siobhan Prior talks about her Career

Siobhan Prior (20) is a student at Loyola College in America, a school recognised for academic integrity and athletic success. She has played for England at every age group and has two England senior caps to her name. She was England junior player of the year in 2005 and also key member of the Nottingham Wildcats senior team. She then decided to leave all this behind and start all over again in America.

She has been kind enough to have a chat about some of her experiences at home and abroad as well as her plans for the future.

It is not easy to pick a moment to describe her career so I simply asked about a match from the past: the day England beat France during the 2001 BAM in Aldershot. I hit gold as her eyes lit up and she narrated her story: “Our coach Ian Day informed us if we win he would bleach his hair blond and perm it. We were also told that the team had already booked their tickets for Croatia, which was enough to fire us up.”

“Under no pressure we played okay and trailed by only 2 points, which was an achievement in itself. The game remained close and with about 2 minutes remaining, I was sent to the foul line, I made my free throws and the game was tied. We then went in front with 5 seconds or so left, the French team had the last play and fired a shot off from downtown, it was missed and we won.”

She does not remember the names of any of the French players but was not surprised to hear that some of them are today amongst the best players in Europe.

The interview continued:

Question: Tell us about your transition from English trainer methods to those in America.

Response: In England I used to train twice a week with my team and a couple of times with the men which seemed a lot at the time and I thought that I was prepared, but I soon discovered that this was not enough. The first couple of weeks were really difficult, I had no problems with fitness work and somehow managed with the intensity but the weights was something else and it took some time to adjust.

Coach Logan’s attention to detail was also something that was new to me. Everything had to be right: preparation, training, concentration, basically, when you come to training and when you play the focus must be about what is to be done and nothing else. This adjustment in mindset thinking was the biggest challenge for me because in the past compared to my current situation success came easily.

Looking back and upon reflection I was lucky that the northern development system was good, which enabled me to progress through the age groups: I for one gained from this system without any problems and without really understanding the full mechanism behind it, but without I may not be in the position I am today. As good as the system is my times here has made me realise that in order to maximise one’s potential and improve to the highest standard, dedication alone is not enough, one needs to be 100% focused on their objectives.

It is easy to make such a statement when you look at the facilities at my school, everything here straight from the locker room to the training methods is so professional that it is difficult to be put into words. We are students first and athletes second but if you see the staff we have looking after us it is incredible: 3 assistant coaches, 3 managers at the front office plus a whole lot of back room staff.

Question: How are you coping with the limited court time so far?

Response: I kind of expected it because I know that I will develop as a player. I made the choice to go to this school because I had offers from Division II schools. The result of my progression was noticeable when I came back last year and played with the GB U20.

Pause: Siobhan stopped talking for a while before continuing

Response It is one thing to train but you have to understand that everything was new for me and it is easy to get distracted. The pre-game show, cheerleaders, the staff etc, initially I was overwhelmed by the extra attention and was probably not as focused as I should have been but today I am totally focused. I got more time last season and I definitely want to start playing a more senior role in the team next season.

Question: How have you coped with the 3000 miles separating you from your family?

Response: Homesickness was a big issue; I am the only child and was used to seeing my parents all the time. And they had watched every game I had ever played. So all of a sudden they are no longer around, something I knew would happen but had not planned for so this was hard at first. Luckily Coach Logan’s attention to detail includes homesickness and he devised ways with his staff for compensating for this and creating a family away from home for his players. The only area this second family does not protect you from the pranks on freshman students. It may sound weird but last year was the first time in my life I celebrated my birthday without my parents and yet Coach Logan made sure that I had a day to remember. As I plan to play professional basketball after completing my studies I see this part of my education as preparation for life on the road.

Question: Let’s not forget you are here to study and gain a degree.

Response: My major is philosophy and minor English Literature. I have to maintain a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.0 to play basketball although NCAA rules are 1.8. If my grades drop then I am out of the team. I was told that studying over would be easy. Well I can tell you that at least in my school it is not as easy as they say. I still have regular classes, need to get my assignments finished on time. We do get help when we are on the road but I am the one that has to read the books, submit my papers etc. Next year I plan to attend summer school so that I can reduce the workload for my final year.

Siobhan, the International

Siobhan belongs to an elite group of players that has represented England (Great Britain) at every age group, including age groups that no longer exist for international competition. She belongs to the 1987 generation that includes player such as Angeline Browne, Helen Naylor and Emma Camp.

Question: You were 17 when you earned your first England cap, can you tell us a little about that experience?

Response: I have played for England at youth level
but to be called up to play for England seniors was something else. I had watched Andrea Congreaves play for England so for me it was an ambition come true. The whole experience was bind blowing, the national anthem, officially receiving my first cap, the speeches for debutantes is something I will never forget. Laura West, Kate Butters, Zoe Vicks and Emma Camp also made their debut with me. Playing on my home court in front of my friends and family was special.

Question: Can you tell us a little about the playing for GB U20 last year?

Response: To finish 4th last year hurts and still hurts today, we were that close to getting a medal and it would have been nice for the 86-born players to end their youth career with a medal. Nobody had expected us to do so well but we just played match after match without paying attention to our opponents.

Question: Moving forward to the present: how are things with the U20 squad this year?

Response: Things have changed in a positive manner, they are more professional and the present squad is working well together. We are off to Portugal next week for a training camp that includes some matches and soon after the final squad will be announced.

Question: In England you known as the daughter of Chris and Pauline, how is life in America without this label

Response: It is nice to be your own person, no extra pressure but if I am to be honest I kind of miss it. It was nice going to play matches and people knew who I was, I really did not think of it as a label, I still have my own identity.

Question: To round up, lets talk about the future and the year 2014.

Response Basically all I want to do is play basketball and when I finish my studies, I would like to play in France or Spain. I also would like to help more in the development of Basketball in this country, give something back as a mark of respect for all the people involved in my development and by 2014 I would love to play professional basketball in England.

Question: Tell us a little bit about the 17th November 2006 and your first points for Loyola.

Response: It was a major milestone for me, because I did not play much in the first couple of games and when the coach put me on and I hit that 3-pointer it was like I told you I could do it. I also hit a second 3-pointer in that match.

Question: On 11th February 2007 your mother came to town with 3 players from your hometown club, Hannah, Laura and Lucy, to see you play at Loyola against Rider in the MAAC conference. How did you feel?

Response: It was a big match for us that day in front of a big crowd against Rider and for my parents to be there was great. I had a good game and played quite well, we won the match and to be able share that moment with them was something special.

No rest for Siobhan as she is currently in Sheffield training with the GB U20 squad in preparation for the U20 European Championship Women in Druskininkai, Lithunania, and will travel to Portugal at the end of the week to continue preparation.

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