European Way

with

Aleksandra Crvendakic

“Basketball gave me so many people and connections in my life. That’s why I can say I am a rich person.”

Step into Aleksandra Crvendakic's world, where basketball isn't just a game but a journey filled with passion and determination. Growing up in Serbia, where basketball is a big deal, Aleksandra was a tall, skinny kid who fell in love with the sport more and more every day. She spent her childhood practicing in her hometown of Loznica, dreaming of bigger things.

Highschool years…

First practicing and growing more into basketball world in her hometown- Loznica. Aleks understood that in order to take the next step, she has to take the opportunity and leave Loznica to go to Belgrade. At age 18, she has to decide either go PRO or go to the States. 

“ America gives you really good option of playing basketball and finishing a degree, which in Europe we do not have. Either you go PRO or you choose between basketball or school, which is really hard.”

Aleksandra laughs when saying that her style suited more Europe than America, adding, that she was even skinnier then than she is now. So the decision was made to follow her older teammates of the National Team and go Pro. With that being said, her parents always pushed her to also be successful in school, so Aleksandra had to find a university where she could do both- successfully play basketball and get a degree.

“Going Pro means you can forget about being a normal student. You have to find a university who is okay with you doing homework and tests in specific times, as well as graduating in YOUR specific time.”

How can you comment on you being brave for changing schools when you were a teenager?

“There is a part where you need some luck, when something happen in your life, that pushes you to make that step, ” Aleksandra says. Her funny story starts in Loznica because she really did not want to go to Belgrade, until one day she went to practice but the lights in the gym were out, so her team could not practice that day. And we all know, that missing one practice is the end of the world at that time. So Aleksandra came home and said:” I am DONE. I am signing to go to Belgrade.” “The MOST important thing in this moment is your support system. When stepping out of the comfort zone, you really need the support of your family and closest people to you! And taking that step, that you know is for better future” , Aleksandra encourages.

“If you don’t take that step, for the better future, growth isn't going to happen.”

Let’s talk about the agents

Aleksandra chose an agent when she was 18. They have connections and can help you in different ways, but they cannot do magic. Your basketball is what can do your magic. It is important that agent is aligned with your goals and needs in that specific situation. But you can always change the agent, when your goals change too. Relationships with older teammates are key when talking about sharing experience and figuring out situations you- as a youngster, did not even know. The MOST important thing is being a good person because basketball world is small, and everyone is connected, so being a good person- if you are smart, if you study something, if you are good with people around you, can lead a long way in your career.

What is your advice about playing and studying?

Graduating with a degree in Economics, she emphasises that it is important to study and learn something, to become a more complex or interesting person. Did she say basketball has to be her priority- ABSOLUTELY, but the truth is, she encourages Pro’s to be interested in something else, additionally to basketball. 

“You will be a better basketball player because of that!”

And of course, if you choose this route, basketball comes first but studies HAVE to follow. It’s harder, that’s for sure, because many questions come in the equation- where will you play that or next season, which university you want to choose, who are the people around you. European way is harder, Aleksandra mentions, because the choice is yours- if you want to study or just play. You are a Pro in that point, so you also have to be a Pro in time management and doing homework on the road.

Is there something you wish you knew, or something you would change about your career?

“If you choose to play basketball, it gives us a lot, but there is also another side of it that takes a lot, like injuries. Take the time to stretch, do recovery.”

When she thinks about her good and bad experiences, or things she would change, she instantly regrets even thinking about them because everything she went through, made her who she is today. Even the bad experiences sharpen you for the better future. She doesn't want to change anything because on this path she met the people who she learnt a lot from.