|Hollie Mershon's first professional steps have taken her to the basketball mecca of Lithuania|
By Paul Nilsen
The Lithuanian capital of Vilnius is a long way from home for Drexel standout Hollie Mershon - even if she has her country music playing to remind her of Stateside.
After a hugely impressive career in the NCAA which culminated in landing a title in her senior year after scoring almost 20 points-per-game, Mershon has subsequently landed at Kibirkstis-Vici Vilnius.
She is taking her first professional footsteps with the Lithuanian champions and anticipating the heady heights of competing in EuroLeague Women against the biggest women's basketball stars in the world.
Although first up, comes the all-important task of settling into new surroundings.
"Any kind of change away from home is a bit scary, but when you love the game of basketball as much as I do, it makes the experience a little easier," reflects Mershon.
"In fact, this kind of change is almost out of character for me, I am a homebody, but sometimes you must step out of your comfort zone in order to continue to pursue what you love.
"I am certainly excited to soon be playing in such a competitive league against some of the best."
Adjusting to her new life on European soil, Mershon is taking comfort from some familiarities and also looking to dip her toes into other things off the court.
"I absolutely love country music," she smiled.
"I am not sure if it's popular over here in Europe, but it is my favourite genre.
"Since I have been here, I have heard a few European artists and I am now beginning to love some European music too.
"Country may be my favourite, but I love all kinds of music and my guilty pleasure when I am bored is to listen to music and dance," she said with a laugh.
SUCCESS WITH DREXEL
|Mershon played at college with Lithuania international Kamile Nacickaite, who has been full of advice in helping her settle into her new city |
If ever there was a player who grew perfectly into the college game, then surely it is Mershon. It was a textbook journey made up of year on year incremental improvements and then iced with a particularly sweet fairy-tale ending.
"My college career was the best four years of my life," said Mershon.
"I had a very positive and exciting college career, with amazing team-mates, coaches, and supportive staff.
"During my senior year, we won the WNIT Championship, which is a moment that I will always remember!"
The versatile graduate does not come to Lithuania completely in the dark about her new home, since she previously played with Lithuanian national team player Kamile Nacickaite who has been a helpful source of advice.
She said, "Yes, Kamile and I played at Drexel University for three years together.
"I have spoken to her a couple times and she has given me the run-down of the team and the area that I will be living in - she has been very helpful so far.
"Hopefully her family can even attend some of my games, since seeing familiar faces is always nice."
FLEXIBILITY CAN FUEL KIBIRKSTIS
There is little doubt that one of the most appealing aspects for Kibirkstis-Vici snapping up Mershon is not just her scoring ability, but the flexibility she offers any team.
"I do enjoy playing many positions on the court," confirmed the player.
"Right now for the team, I have been playing point guard and it's funny, because my first position as a basketball player back when I was 12-years-old was point guard until I transferred high schools.
"That is when I began to play the 2-3 positions and was recruited to play that position in college.
"I am able to be versatile because I have experience at each position.
I love to win and I am certainly a competitor," added the Pennsylvania native.
"I am willing to do whatever it takes to help my team succeed.
Kibirsktis-Vici Vilnius are in Group C of EuroLeague Women and will tip-off their season in the competition at CCC Polkowice on 06 November.