Elisha Ruth Turek – In Love With God

Last year José Ángel Rivera “Mozan”, the coach of Pío XII in the Spanish LF2, bet on a completely unknown and recently graduated at the Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma player, Elisha Turek. I worked out and Elisha caused an impact last year and was the underdog in Liga Femenina 2. After that great season in which Pío XII fell short on moving up to Liga Femenina, Elisha decided that her next stop would be Liga Femenina. But things won’t be that easy…

Everybody wondered during the summer which team in Liga Femenina would get Elisha on its roster. CajaCanarias was the team, but things didn’t turned out how it supposed to be and finally Canarias didn’t give her the chance to show her skills in Liga Femenina. But Elisha, her inner peace, her enormous faith and trust in God and also her hard work mentality, helped her to be patient and not surrender because she knew that she would be given a chance.

The chance appeared on the horizon. Ibiza needed a post player to cover Sancho Lyttle’s injury leave and Puig d’en Valls signed her but although she made good numbers in just one month and we could see a sparkle of her talent, due to her nationality she had to fall from her second roster in just five months, but in her head and heart the word “quit” doesn’t even exist.

January came, and after spending Christmas in Council Bluffs with her family a new contract was waiting as a Reyes gift for her in Spain. Looking for salvation Extrugasa put its sights on the young power-forward and this time she came to stay and show the world she has a place in any team who’s looking for a player who can bring whatever a team needs through her hard work on and off the court and she’s not disappointing anyone.

Last year she caused an impact for her play and we were anxious to know where would she play this year and to have the chance of talking with her to know a little bit better such an impressive player and this last weekend we finally had the chance. As soon as I started talking to her, I felt invaded by her peace and joy and as we talked she turned out being a way more inspiring person off the court with a clear idea of what she’s doing and what’s she gonna do. Who would have known that in just a month I could meet two peoples that would cause me such an impact…

Well, it took some time but you finally did it. You arrived at your destination: Liga Femenina: How does it feel so far?

Elisha: I really like it. It’s always tough competition every game. I think in Spain they play very well as a team, it’s not just individual basketball so I love it. I love having to work every game hard and always having good players on the team to work with, like Taru, Izi, Sarah, Arantxa, and Katia, in fact my whole team! They’re all really good players, so it’s not just one player. That’s good on a team every time they’re playing good players with everyone.

I’d like you to tell us, how it’s been this weird season for you. I mean that you signed for Canarias but never played there, after that you signed with PDV for a month and finally with Extrugasa…

Elisha: I’m trying to play everywhere in Spain as soon as possible… (Laughs)

No, it was a really difficult year, but I think it turned out the best possible way. I learned a lot in Canarias, then I learned a lot in Ibiza and now I’m learning in Extrugasa and I’ve had the chance to play for three different coaches which taught me a lot and I think it was a very humbling experience which Y think it’s good always. So, I don’t know I always think everything works out to those who love God, it’s in The Bible and I think it worked out good for me, so…

But it may have been disappointing or at least kinda hard watching the time go by and you don’t sign with a team?

When I was in Canarias I was really disappointed because I never had a chance… “I’ll do whatever they say,”, “I’ll work hard”, “I’ll figure it out” and so it was the first time it didn’t work out very well for me but I faced disappointment and I think that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger so in the end it was really good because I learned a lot on the way.

So in the meantime, between contracts, Did you get back to the States?

Elisha: I went home a little early in Christmas but also, my brother (John) plays in Poland, and my other brother (Josh) plays in Madrid so, in between that time I actually got to go see my brother in Poland play a game which I haven’t seen him play in like four years and then I went and saw my other brother play in Madrid, so that was really nice because I’d never been to Poland or anything. It was like a little vacation, unpaid but… (Laughs) but, I don’t know, It worked out. It was still a blessing in the disguise

I think your brother Josh is kinda star on wheelchair basketball. We still haven’t got the chance to see John play in Spain but let’s trust we’ll see him in a near future since I think he was a good defensive player in Nebraska University, How did they help you while being inactive? I mean helping you keep the Faith and not quit playing in Spain. What was their best or the best piece of advice you got?

Elisha: Well, they really believe in me. So when it all happened they just continued to say that it would work out and that I just needed a chance. They were never negative. And also when I would visit we would work out together so it kept me in shape too.

You know sometimes it’s hard to figure out how a fresh outta college player is going to respond, as it was your case last season when you came after graduating at the ORU in Tulsa, What were your prospects about basketball after graduating?

Elisha: I think I was a bit naive, like I was really young and I expected that everything was always going to be perfect kinda deal. So I remember when I went to Chicago for the WNBA and I got cut I was like: “Oh My Goodness, the world has come to and end!”

But now I think I learned to really trust in God so, when I got cut from Canarias, when I got changed from Ibiza, my agent Luís Álvarez called me to ask me “Are you OK?” and I said “I’m fine, it’ll all work out, it’s OK” and I really did have a peace about it, I know it sounds fake but I really did, I just knew that it’s in God hands and I can only do so much and so it’s kinda change my perspective. I know I can’t control everything so I just trust in God, it’s much easier.

One important reason for you to come to Spain was your brother Josh experience with Fundosa ONCE where he’s the star of the team, and I think he talked to you very well about basketball in Spain…

Elisha: Yeah, he loves Spain, he doesn’t even come home in the whole summer because he says Spain is his home, and I had visited him before when I was in College to see him play and stuff. I’ve also heard that Spain is one of the best leagues too and, I don’t know, I just said “I want to go to Spain” and when I talked to my agent I said “I want to go to Spain!”, and sinc
e I’ve been here I’ve really, really liked it. I think Spain is beautiful….

Fortunately you followed Josh steps, you might have followed John’s and now you’d be playing in Poland which would be more difficult and disappointing for us, the fans…

Yeah, (Laughs) I didn’t realize Spain was so pretty and I really like the lifestyle… some of the lifestyle (Laughs) but yeah, It’s been really good

And you came to Spain, to Pío XII, How was that experience?

Elisha: It was so good. I played with Mar and Laura and I think they are some of the smartest players I’ve ever played with because they’re much older. Laura was my point guard and Mar was my other post and so I just learned so much. Like I always say, I think it worked out perfect that I went there first because, like my coach “Mozan” was really good to me too, because at the beginning in Pío I shot every time and he said “What are you doing?? If you’re doubled, pass, pass!!” and so he taught me the Spanish game because I was very much in the American game but just playing with them, and I playing with that team, we had a really good team. I loved Pío XII and I think the players were great players..

Really bad luck in the end…

Elisha: Yeah, it ended bad, I’d have loved to move up but…

Are you still in touch with your former teammates? Do you follow LF2?

Elisha: I do still keep in touch with my teammates. Cecilia Linea and I became really good friends last year and we still talk a lot. She is now playing in Navarra. I am following LF2. I want to see PIO XII do well and Cecilia.

It would have been nice you had moved up, but now you’re in Liga Femenina, What were your expectations about it?

Elisha: I just expected it to be a much better league and I think it is. I think it’s much physical that LF2. Also in LF2 there was always one or two good players but here I feel like you play and it’s five good players, there’s no “Let’s double her, she’s the only player. It’s everyone who can play. And it’s much more physical.

As you said before, you’ve been in WNBA’s Chicago Sky training camp, unfortunately you didn’t finally made your debut in WNBA, is that something you’re really after, playing in WNBA?

Elisha: Honestly, I don’t care at all. I know my family would enjoy it just because they would get to see me play, but for me, if it happens, it happens, but it’s not something I’m pushing for, if something pops open I would do it, but I like playing overseas and I love having summers free, but I would do it, I would play.

And if not I think you do will be doing some other stuff during the summer since I think you’ve been a missionary…

Elisha: Yeah, I’ve done a lot of Mission trips. Actually, since Y was 12 years old I’ve been doing Mission trips. I’ve been in a lot of places but I love it. When I’m done it’s what I wanna do. Like I tell many people basketball is not my main priority. God is my main priority and the moment I’m supposed to be done, I’m done. I love it, I can play a long time but it’s not my main thing. I want to go and tell people about God and help people, and there’s a lot of hurting people out there who need to know the truth and needs to be fed, and that’s my main priority.

So you want to become a priestess, when you’re done in basketball? Maybe I’m sounding too poetic right now but I’m sure you know that as a player you make a lot of people happy too…

I want to tell people about God and help the poor, and people, spend time praying. But I wouldn’t call it a priestess. But I do want to work with a church.

Now you’ve mentioned you’ve done a lot of that Mission Trips, and why know it has nothing to do about basketball but… I’m just like that, you know…

Elisha: Yeah, I know, I think it’s much more interesting than basketball (Laughs)

Me too, there’s a lot much more things apart from basketball and why think it’s interesting to tell about it, so What are that Mission Trips about?

Elisha: I’ve done a lot of different types. I’ve gone and brought food to the poor people, I’ve gone into adoption clinics and brought them food and toys. We’ve gone into hospitals and prayed for the sick. We’ve done… I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, Drama’s , it’s like a theatre but live, just standing on the street to tell people about Jesus and stuff. What we just kinda do on each Mission trip is different but I think the best are when we do a little bit of everything, going to the hospitals, to the young kids…

So I guess the reward from that it’s much bigger than what you can accomplish with basketball…

Elisha: Yeah, that’s what I say, that’s just a game. Like that’s life, this is a game.

Here’s not really common see people of your age talking about Jesus of making Mission trips, What made you get into that?

Elisha: My mom. My mom actually smuggled bibles into china when they were communist. She always made us go to mission conventions. So I really began to have a passion for the nations and at a very young age I knew I wanted to be a missionary.

Maybe it would be an interesting Mission to teach Jesus word to Spanish youth….

Yeah, I have gone to many Spanish speaking countries and I love telling the youth about God.

Some other players, especially the American, work with foundations or organizations or have their own foundations, are you involved with any of that foundations or organizations?

Elisha: I travel with different Christian organizations, but I don’t have like my own at all. That would be a good idea (Laughs).

So you entered into Faith through your family…

Elisha: Yeah, a little bit. I have two sisters and one of them has a House of Prayer and just prays all the time, does Missions and does stuff like that, plays the piano and sings… and my other sister’s becoming a missionary in Japan and my two brothers are basketball players so I’m the middle one (Laughs)

You know, I saw your brother’s John video on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wowDIIIhyMg )
on an interview he did while playing in the Netherlands, in which he explained how he found Jesus…

Elisha: Aw, yeah? Well, I got a lot more into it (Religion), I don’t know, like a couple of years ago. It just became real like, “Oh, My Goodness! God’s real!” and I kinda fell in love with God again, but yeah, I did grow up into it. But there was a realization a couple of years ago, through what it became real again. Actually it was right after I got cut from Chicago. I did an internship in a Church and I was in long hours of prayer and I just fell in love with God, I began to read The Bible more and now I just love it, so…

You know, about a month ago I had the incredible privilege of interviewing Ruth Riley who also has st
rong believing just like you, and is an amazing person, just like you again. She told me she studies The Bible, Do you study it too?

Elisha: Yeah. A lot! Right now I’m in Psalms and Old Testament prophets. That’s why I like what I do, because I play basketball but I still have tons of time so I have tons of time to listen to the sermons, not just read the Bible, but actually study it, read books about it…

Any special book from the Bible you’d recommend to those people who look for a reason to fall in love with God again???

Elisha: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John! Especially John, that’s my favorite. The words of Jesus will change your life!

But that’s not the only thing you do on your free time, since you’ve got a solid and deserved hard worker reputation, where that came from??

Elisha: That came comes from my brothers. when I was young we were always like “Oh, I’m gonna be a good basketball player” and they were “If you want to be a good basketball player you got to work, come on we’re going to shoot, come on we’re going to lift” In the summer I go shoot with them every day, and play with them everyday, and lift with them. They’re very hard workers and helps a lot seen them pave the way…

I guess especially Josh…

Elisha: Actually, John is a harder worker than Josh but Josh is a better player than John.

But his situation definitely is inspiring (suffering Espina Bifida)

Elisha: He’s amazing. He never has let his spina bifida keep him from doing anything. We actually in the summer go on vacations together. We’ve climbed mountains, gone on whitewater rafting trips. He can do anything

And what were your beginnings in basketball?

I think I began to like basketball so much because of my family. I had so much fun watching and playing with my brothers. But I think this is what I am supposed to be doing right now. I think God gave me the passion for it. I really do love to play.

Thank God for that. Well, you said you don’t like some of the lifestyle in Spain, and I think I can see why because you might have not seen people your age doing what you usually do at the States, most surely the contrary. So, do you think there’s some way to regain people who have been turned off by religion?

Elisha: I’m not Catholic, but I go to Catholic churches here, it’s all old people and little kids. But I think that, in America I go to that crazy churches where they clap their hands, jump and shout, I think that if those youth could see that… I think they look at Church like something they had to do when they were little and it’s boring, but if you think about it, it’s God, He’s the creator of Heaven and Earth. It’s not boring. I don’t find the Bible boring at all but many people finds it boring, and Y think that it’s just how it was put to them, it was more forced to them, so now they look at it badly. But I think, for instance in America, on January first, I went to this youth convention with prayer and stuff, with 15.000 people my age, to bring in the New Year to pray God, and it was in a small city, Kansas City, like no one even knows about it, you know, and when I show that (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08fwEIxBtSQ -promo- and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKFQ5Ruiu08&feature=related –video from the event) to people here in Spain and I say “That’s what I want to do!” they say “That’s church!! Well I would go to that!!”
I think there’s a way, but…

15.000 thousand people?? Not even in the wildest dreams of Spain’s church! Sorry. Let me ask you something; exactly what are you?

Elisha: A Christian. I follow and try to be like Jesus. I read the Bible

Do you go to church in Vilagarcía?

Elisha: I don’t go every Sunday but I go although I don’t understand at all.. Sometimes I’ll take the train and go to Santiago.

What I’m sure you’ve found is a good karaoke place in Vilagarcía, right?

Elisha: (Laughs) Yeah, I like Karaoke. Me and Taru do a duet. We might do another duet tonight…

Taru Tuukkanen: (Laughs) Whatever!!

Elisha: She’s amazing!!! (Laughs)

Taru: You’re a liar, don’t lie…

I was in your Facebook space and I found you’re a fan from The Call, that’s an organization which embraces intensive praying, worship and fasting. The thing is that “fasting” took my attention and I found it really interesting, so I wanted to ask you about that…

Elisha: You can do different fasts, like you can do Media fast, like no TV, or like no computer or something like that. I know many times, specially playing basketball, you can’t do fasts. It’s difficult so you can do instead fast something you really like, like I’ll have no coffee, or no computer.

What do you think about Spain as fas as religion is concerned?

Elisha: I think you guys have an amazing history here. We went to the monastery in the mountains and I thought that was really cool because the monks in the morning where there doing worship and stuff, like in Salamanca there’s the Cathedral that was made in the 16th century, so you guys have cool history and really beautiful churches, but I think that, especially my generation finds it very boring.

Most probably it’s because during long time the church had a lot of power over government and people, and a lot of things were prosecuted, and there was a lot of obligation into it, so the most of the people of my or yours generation, once that church power wasn’t so strong, maybe not by ourselves but by our parents rejected being into that “system of values” not because of the real value or what the Bible really teaches but because the abuse it’s been done about it, because when you learn the real word of Jesus, it has nothing to do with all that, it’s just about love, but somehow things turned out into a really different thing…

Elisha: I think that’s why, because you had to. It was like “You have to do it” and that’s not what it’s about, and I think that has turned a lot of people off, doing it as an obligation, instead of doing it for love. But I would say that the people here, every team I’ve been on, the girls have been incredibly nice, everybody. I love the people here because everybody is really accepting.

You know, this last months in Spain, in Madrid and Barcelona, there was a Bus in which some atheist organisation put this message: "Probaly God doesn't exist, stop worrying and enjoy life". Last month, Italy got convulsed on the case of Eluana Unglaro whose father finally put an end to a coma that lasted the last 17 years after suffering a traffic accident, creating a huge controversy with the Vatican and the Italian government and last Monday the Spanish Church launched a campaign against the forthcoming Abortion Bill.

I wanted to ask you your opinion about all this…

Elisha: About the bus, I thi
nk that a life with God is enjoyable. Think about it, A God who is the Creator of the Universe, sent his son to die for you because he loves you so much, made you in his image, and wants to spend time with you! What could be more enjoyable! I enjoy praying, I enjoy reading his words (the Bible). He made us to enjoy him. On the other issue… it's is very difficult situation that is very hard on the family and I hope no one ever has to go through; but I would say in every human situation. Life is best. God gave us life. I don't think any human has the right to take it away.

Getting a little back to basketball and Faith, I guess Faith was a key fact for you to choose Oral Roberts University?

Yes, it was. It was the only reason I went there. I actually wrote them and told them “I want to go to your school because I want to go to a Christian University, and I want to go to a D1 University and you are the only one I can do all both, so I pretty much told them “This is where I want to go” because they’re not near me so I had to tell them I want to go to your school. (Laughs)

Fortunately it ended up well, How was your collegiate career?

Elisha: It was really good, we went to the NCAA Tournament twice, we won awards. It was good.

You had Jerry Finkbeiner as a coach, usually the figure of the coach at College is very important, What was his influence on you, as a player and as a person?

I learned a lot from him. Just coming from High School you didn’t know much so he taught me a lot of the fundamentals of basketball, like everyone that went there. I met some of the best friends in my life there and as seniors there were three of us that came in together and we were like the best seniors class that ever go through that, so it was good.

From 18 to 21 are a years in which you learned a lot about yourself, did that happen to you in College??

Elisha: Yes, but I think that I actually learned more after. Living on my own. I think it’s a big difference than being in a dorm. So I have actually learned more about myself in the past two years, I think.

You did a good career there, for example being included in the All Conference team (Mid-Con) three times in a row, but apart from that you majored in Communications, Do you want to pursue professionally something related to that after your basketball career?

Elisha: Absolutely nothing with that to be honest. I really just want, after I’m done, do Mission, maybe start a House of Prayer or something. I really just wanna work in Church. Do Missions, travel to third world countries and something like that.

That’s really special. And really important for a society in which human values seem to be more lost everyday. As I said Ms. Riley, you’re heroes. I hope you make it. Well, to end with this I’m going to tell you something so you can tell me why do you think: God makes no mistakes??

Elisha: I agree. It says in the Bible He’s ways are higher than our ways. He is perfect. We don’t always understand his ways. But we can’t see the whole picture. Everything happens for a reason!

Also, to finish, I’ve heard you like to play without calling fouls so why didn’t want to miss the occasion to invite you to a league me and some friends play during the summer. We don’t pay but the only rule we have is “no autopsy-no foul” So you’re always invited if you wanna join us…

Elisha: That’s fine. I say I love playing with guys because I can actually play (laughs)

By the way, who won your last Taru-Elisha One on one Classic ???

Elisha: I DID!!!!!

Congratulations then! Well Elisha, that was all. What can I say? I’d never had said that in just a month I’d meet two such amazing persons. I fall short if I say that’s been a huge privilege and honor just having the chance to share with you this hardly half an hour. We just want to wish you a long and great career on the court, in Spain if possible, and once more I can’t find a best way to finish this interview if it’s not saying: God bless you Elisha.




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