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Jackets Have a Swede Connection

Sept. 15, 2009

by Kristy Rivero

ATLANTA — Jag spelar.

That’s, “I play basketball,” for those of you who don’t speak Swedish. If you’re a fan of the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team, you might want to invest in lessons. Maybe rent some Rosetta Stone DVDs, because there is a basketball pipeline between Atlanta and Stockholm, and it doesn’t appear to be shutting off any time soon.

Freshman Danielle Hamilton-Carter, or Dani as she is called, is now the fourth Tech women’s basketball player from Sweden. The 19-year old, born to an American father and Swedish mother, follows former Jackets Nina Bärlin, Jasmina Pacariz, and Chioma Nnamaka to the Atlanta campus.

She is here solely because of the recommendation of her fellow countrymen.

“I played with both Nina and Jasmina back home in Sweden. Nina was my point guard two years ago and Jasmina played with me for two years. I’ve always heard stories about the Georgia Tech team and the school,” Hamilton-Carter said. “So for me it felt natural coming here. It’s a big step coming from Sweden. It’s a big step going from high school to college any way, but for me it felt natural… it felt like I belonged here.”

While many foreign students deal with learning a new language, Dani is learning a new style of basketball. She has over five years of experience in the international game, but it is much different from the American style of play.

Anyone who has watched the Olympics knows about the wider lanes. Also at 6-foot-4, she was usually the biggest and the strongest player on the floor. That’s not the case now.

“The international game is way more finesse and it’s not as much power. Dani is a post player, so one of the biggest adjustments for her is having to play inside the paint,” said Tech coach MaChelle Joseph. “They spread the floor and they play fast with more speed and quickness. We play with more strength and power. So I think that’s one of things she’s had to learn to adjust to.”

Recently-hired assistant coach Octavia Blue will also help Dani make the adjustment to the American college game.

“She played in the WNBA and she played overseas in Europe,so she knows how my transition is,” Hamilton-Carter said. “She went from the States to Europe and I’m coming from Europe to the States, so she knows basically what I have to do to be able to play here. That’s going to be really helpful.”

Dani has already made the transition off the court. She attended her first football game last week when the Jackets hosted Clemson. She doesn’t understand the game yet, but she is excited about the college sports experience. It’s something that doesn’t exist back home.

“Soccer is huge. Ice hockey is huge. We don’t have college sports, we don’t have high school teams. It’s club teams. We don’t have the tradition, we don’t have the same culture when it comes to sports,” she said, “And this is really what I love. This is my passion. I love sports in general so to be able to be a part of this culture of sports is just amazing.”

And just wait until the season kicks off in the basketball-crazy ACC. “I’m looking forward to it, but I’ll be nervous,” Hamilton-Carter said.

“I’ll be shaking a bit but in a good way.”

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