his new wife and their two children behind in the United States to spend
the next eight months playing basketball in Edinburgh may have been a tough
choice for David Washington.
But Edinburgh Rocks’
beanpole forward reckons that life in the Scottish capital is a walk in
the park after spending last winter in the frozen reaches of the Ukraine.
While playing for
continental stars Kiev, Washington had the opportunity to play against
some of the biggest teams this side of the Atlantic, including London Towers,
in the Northern European Basketball League.
taking three years out of the sport to work as a PE teacher, Washington,
a devout Christian, admits he "felt blessed" to get the opportunity to
play overseas - even in a part of the globe he knew very little about.
"I took the job and
went in blind," he said. "It wasn’t as bad as people had painted it. Ukraine
is a very pretty country, with a lot of history.
"It surprised me
how well they accepted African-Americans. They opened their arms up to
me as did the other players, the president, the owners.
"They had some other
African-Americans there but they were mainly in the military. For the most
part, everywhere I went people were friendly."
is enjoying the more relaxed environment he has found in Edinburgh. At
6ft 6in tall, he might still be noticed in a crowd but the freedom to roam
unhindered is a welcome change.
"The main problem
I had over there was being harassed by the police. Everywhere I went, they
pulled me over. It was wild, but the club gave me documents to present
and that usually cleared things up quickly. Edinburgh I love because everyone
here speaks English, so I don’t have to adjust. The people are friendly,
the food is Americanised."
Despite his positive
early impression of the Capital, Washington has no plans to bring over
his family from their home in Dayton, Ohio, to join him. With a further
addition to his brood due in the spring, being parted for such a long period
is a sacrifice for he and his spouse. But both accept it is part and parcel
of a basketball career.
"I stopped playing
and taught PE because I wanted to be with my family," he recalls. "But
I realised that my calling at that point wasn't yet to teach. Basketball
was still in me. So I had to get that out of my system.
"With our oldest
kid being three, the other being in one, my wife has to stay in the States
right now. So you have to have an understanding, someone who sees the long-haul
picture. I could stay at home and work but you make a plan. She understands
that and she is God-fearing woman and I'm a God-fearing man so we both
believe things will work out."
He recalls: "When
I took the job in Kiev, with them being so young I didn’t want to expose
them to a different place in the world. At least if anything happened to
me, I knew they would be all right. Right now, it’s easier for them to
stay at home."
Along with fellow
newcomers Damon Johnson and Ryan Huntley, 30-year-old Washington has been
in impressive form on the court and his defensive contribution was central
in the Rocks’ Cup upset of London Towers.
So far, Washington
has shown little of his scoring prowess yet he has been a key factor in
Rocks’ promising start. With struggling Leopards next on the horizon for
Kevin Wall’s men, he believes there is still much more to come from the
"Every night is not
going to be my night, but as long as we stick together we’ll be okay,"
said Washington. "Defence wins championships. Offense wins games.
"What matters here
is the post-season, when the Championship is on the line. We’re taking
it game by game to try and get there."
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