Catharina Weiß will start studying at The University of Alabama next season. She wants to win an NWBA National Championship with the side and is looking forward to playing in the States alongside her German teammates; Babsi Groß, Katharina Lang and Selina Rausch. She spoke with Rollt.’s Dylan Cummings about her move to America.
Why did you choose study and play at Alabama?
“I chose to go to Alabama, because it offers the best training opportunities. Additionally, I have the opportunity to connect studying and basketball in the best way possible. This opportunity would have been difficult in Germany. Besides all of that, I can keep developing my personality, my language and intercultural skills, in a place far away from my home, family and friends.”
How do you intend to fit into the team?
“This question is really difficult to answer. I’ve played in several teams in the past, which helped me to adapt quickly into new teams. Furthermore, I can also be adaptive in my role in a team in general.”
Why did you choose to move to America for college?
“In the United States sport has a completely different significance than in Germany, especially basketball. Furthermore, improving my English is a very important part of connecting study and basketball.”
What will challenge you in the NWBA intercollegiate league?
“The game mode in the NWBA intercollegiate league is different than in the German league. I’m used to playing single game days and in the NWBA intercollegiate league it’s going to be like little tournaments, which means whole weekends with up to four games. That will be a very different physical effort, compared to only having one game and having to regenerate from that game.”
How do you think the styles of play will differ between Germany and Alabama?
“The biggest difference will probably be that I’m used to play in mixed teams and in Alabama it will be a pure women’s team. Within the team there are going to be multiple different nationalities, which is also new for me since in Germany we mostly only have German players on our teams. Not only the part of speaking in another language, but also being used to different styles of play from the national team will be a big difference.”
What have you learned from the likes of Martin Otto, Janet McLachlan, Marina Mohnen and Dennis Nohl?
“I’ve learned different things from each of my coaches so far, no matter if it was a coach from the national team or a coach from my club. On one hand, they are teaching the same, for example that you always have to work hard to improve yourself, to have fun while playing basketball and that communication is the key to success.”
How did it feel to receive all-star five honours at the U25 World Championships?
“The nomination into the All-Star Team at the U25 World Championships was an unbelievable honour for me personally, since it honours your personal performance as an individual player.”
You will have some familiarity at Alabama as Babsi Groß, Katharina Lang and Selina Rausch will be your teammates. Which other teammates are you looking forward to working with?
“I’m looking forward to working with everyone, because I think that everyone has their own individual class. But of course, I’m really looking forward to playing with Babsi, Kate and Selina, because they were one of the main reasons I chose to come to Alabama.”
What are your goals for next season?
“Alabama were National Champions last season, and that’s exactly what this year’s goal will be. But the main goal is that we improve as a team from game to game. My personal goal on the other hand is to improve my individual skills and gain more confidence in my style of play.”
What are Germany’s goals for Tokyo?
“I guess it’s hard to define a goal at this moment. Our goal must be to develop as team before and during the tournament and then we can see what is possible.”
How does German culture differ from American culture?
“At this time, I think there are many things which are different from the American culture to the German culture, but it’s difficult to say what the differences are in this early stage. One big difference I would say is the food.”
What will you miss the most about Germany when you are studying?
“I will miss a lot of things about Germany, because I love this country and especially my hometown. Most of all I will miss the German food.”
How would you describe your style of play?
“I think it is difficult to describe my style of play. The only thing which I try to do, is to help my teammates get in good positions, whether it’s to bring them into the zone or to help them to get a good shooting position.”
Has anyone specifically influenced you to play the way you do?
“When I started with wheelchair basketball I always looked up to players like Annabel Breuer and Annika Zeyen, because they are really strong players. I still do that today because I like their different kinds of styles.”
What piece of advice has stuck with you throughout your career?
“My family gives me the most important advice whenever I need it. That support has been and is really important in my career.”
If you could do a training session with three other players from anywhere in the world male or female to improve your skills, which players would you choose and why?
“I could list an incredible number of players, with which I would like to practice together. On one hand, I would like to practice with Abdi Jama. I think that he is the best 1-point player in the world and that he has a unique style of play. I would also like to practice with Alex Halouski, because he is one of those players that gives low pointers incredible respect and I think it would be really interesting to play alongside him. The third person I would choose is Joy Haizelden, because she is a really strong and smart team player.”
Thanks for your time, Catharina!
Catharina Weiß Profile:
Date of Birth: 02/06/2000 (aged 19)
Hometown: Esslingen am Neckar, Baden-Württemberg
Started playing: 2012
Germany senior debut: 2017 European Championships – Tenerife, Spain
Disability: C7/T8 Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury
Current Club: The University of Alabama, USA (2019-Present)
_RSKV Tübingen, GER (2013-17) (2018-2019)
_SGK Heidelberg, GER (2015-17)
_Sabres Ulm, GER (2017-18)
_MTV Stuttgart, GER (2017-19)
_2016 U25 European Championships – Silver – Elxleben, Germany
_2017 European Championships – Silver – Tenerife, Spain
_2018 World Championships – Bronze – Hamburg, Germany
_2018 U24 European Championships – Silver – Bordeaux, France
_2019 U25 World Championships – 5th – Suphanburi, Thailand
_2019 European Championships – Bronze – Rotterdam, Netherlands
Interview: Dylan Cummings | Photo: Steffie Wunderl