Published November 20, 2014
Juggling school and basketball has been a bit difficult for Maya Moore over the past few weeks.
She's playing for Team USA. And she's in another country.
The Connecticut senior, the lone collegian on the U.S. roster at the women's world basketball championship, has had to make time for schoolwork in between games and practices.
So far, everything has worked out well.
"I took two tests and got A's on both so it hasn't been too bad," said Moore, who has over a 3.7 GPA. "The only glitch is that the internet has been spotty at times, making Skype-ing more difficult."
The sports media and promotion major is taking 12 credits this semester and even considered applying for a Rhodes Scholarship, but decided against it. She hasn't had too much trouble managing her time 4,000 miles away from campus.
"It's a balancing act," she said. "I make time for study hall, but also have fun hanging out with my teammates."
Moore isn't the only college player in the tournament. Canada, which lost 87-46 to the U.S. on Monday, has two student-athletes of its own with Notre Dame freshman Natalie Achonwa and Gonzaga senior Janelle Bekkering. The two Canadians were matched up with Moore during the game.
All three are trying to balance representing their countries and keeping up with school back in the U.S. It would have been virtually impossible to do both 20 years ago. Now with the internet, the three players are able to download classes online, talk to teachers via email, or utilize Skype to communicate with classmates.
"My teachers have been very cooperative," said Bekkering, who led Canada with eight points against the U.S. "Before we got here I registered for classes and made sure the teachers were all right with it."
While Moore and Bekkering are in their final years at school, Achonwa is just beginning her collegiate career.
Notre Dame coach Muffett McGraw didn't hesitate in allowing the 17-year-old Achonwa to play for Canada despite her freshman status.
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for someone her age to compete with the best players in the world," McGraw wrote to The Associated Press in an email. "The experiences she's getting over there, with the basketball competition and the chance to learn a new culture, are going to prove invaluable to her growth as a student-athlete."
Achonwa was on campus in South Bend for a few weeks before leaving to join Canada while the team trained in Greece. She roomed with Bekkering on that trip.
"We sat there and did homework together," said Bekkering. "It's more difficult for her because I'm a fifth-year senior. This semester I only had to take three classes."
Achonwa got her introduction to world championship play Thursday against Australia. She was given the task of guarding WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson, who she drew a foul on during one sequence.
The "Canadian Sensation" as her Notre Dame teammates call her, made both free throws and is a perfect 8-for-8 in the tournament.
"That was pretty cool," said Achonwa. "It's a lot more physical at this level than I'm used to."
Canada coach Allison McNeill has been impressed with Achonwa, who at 6-foot-3 provides a physical presence. Still, she finds herself having to play the role of den mother at times.
"If the older players go out for a beer, I'm like 'You can't go," McNeill said with a smile. "There's a certain innocence about her, but she's also wise and wily on the court."