Jazmine White was the 1st draft pick for the Panthers in the 2018 Premier League and Danielle Brisebois was 1st for the Soul Machine. These two fierce competitors became team mates after they both signed a contract with Hungarian team Fatum Nyíregyháza for the 2018/19 season.
This is Danielle’s 2nd season playing in Europe professionally and Jazmine’s 3rd season. The women were kind enough to give us some insight into their life competing overseas and how they got to this stage of their volleyball careers.
How did you get involved with professional volleyball? Was that your intention from start?
Danielle: My plan was always to play professionally after university. I first realized it was a possibility in my final year of high school and ever since it was something I wanted to try. In my final year of university, I reached out to some former teammates from UBC who were playing pro and they helped me make it a reality!
Jazmine: I always wished I could play pro, but it seemed like a dream that wouldn’t actually happen. The thought never properly crossed my mind until I had agents reach out to me after my college career was finished. It wasn’t expected but I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up!
Did you encounter any roadblocks on your road to becoming a professional? How did you overcome them?
Danielle: My main roadblock was finding a good agent to work with. Originally, I had signed with a big agency who represented girls I had watched playing in the Olympics which was really exciting. However, after a few months, I realized the agent was more in it for himself rather than what I wanted in a contract. Luckily, after speaking with him, he let me out of the contract early.
I think it’s important to get to know the people you are working with and have open communication about what you’re looking for overseas. That way you give yourself the best chance to succeed.
Jazmine: A big challenge for me was coming from the off-season after my senior year in America. I had to learn how to eat and stay healthy and maintain my fitness on my own without a coach or trainer telling me what to do all the time. That took some time. It was definitely an adjustment. I had to work really hard on that before my first contract. Over the last few seasons, I’ve definitely learned a lot about how foods affect my body. This has been a great help in learning how to fuel my body for better workouts and life in general.
What has been the most challenging in your life as a professional athlete?
Danielle: The most difficult is keeping yourself busy when you’re not training in the gym or on the courts. There’s a lot of downtime and while many athletes enjoy this aspect of playing professionally, personally, I get a little stir crazy! Not knowing what to do with my time is challenging, so there are many hours spent reading, hanging out in coffee shops or just watching Netflix.
Jazmine: I think the hardest part is just being away from your loved ones. Missing out on so many birthdays, holidays and big life events is really tough. It’s great to have an automatic group of friends when you’re on a team but it doesn’t quite compare.
What has been the best part of competing overseas/professionally?
Danielle: The best part about playing overseas is simply being paid to do what I love! It’s a really great that something that was a hobby as a kid has now become a way to make a living.
Jazmine: My favourite part has been making friends all over the world. Playing professionally has allowed me to see and experience things I might otherwise not have had the opportunity to.
Do you have any season/personal highlights of the 2018/19 season so far?
Danielle: A season highlight definitely has to be making it to the 2nd round of the CEV Cup! This was a personal goal of mine when I joined the team so it’s great to actually be fulfilling it! Our goal as a team is to win the Hungarian Cup in March and then finish our regular season with a medal (preferably GOLD!)
Jazmine: We were voted the All-Star team in the pre-season tournament! That was pretty cool. Also, we’ve advanced to the semi - finals of the Hungarian Cup and to the 2nd round of the CEV Cup, so to be able to bring home a medal in both would be amazing!
*The girls played in the 2nd round of the CEV Cup on January 23rd against Mulhouse and were eliminated. The final score was 0-3.
How did playing in the Premier League help prepare you for your season overseas?
The league was great place to train with other elite athletes locally during the off-season. It was great to have consistent opportunities for touches unlike when I trained alone in previous off-seasons. Having a different perspective from new coaches was great and also, having weekly competitions kept me mentally sharp! Outside of the court, it was nice to see old friends and hang out, catch up with everyone who was coming home from their overseas contracts.
Fatum Nyíregyháza next play:
Jaszberenyi on January 25th in NB I (postponed)
Jaszberenyi on January 28th/30th in the semi-finals of the Hungarian Cup
You can catch their games live on their Facebook.