When Katie Whittier’s time off this spring made her miss the game of basketball, her next career moved seemed like a slam-dunk decision.

“I still really love the game and want to keep playing as long as my body can allow me to,” said the former Gray-New Gloucester and University of Maine center. “After the season, I had taken some time off. I let myself see how I felt. I decided I wanted to keep playing. Playing in Europe is a great opportunity. The pieces fell together and it ended up working.”

Whittier has signed a contract to play next season with a team in Switzerland. She leaves Sunday and expects to start right away, though she doesn’t exactly know when the regular season begins.

“Everything is in Italian – everything my coach sent me,” she said. “I can’t read Italian. I’m actually getting lessons through my contract. So I’ll learn a little bit of Italian.”

Whittier finished a fine career at Maine last year. In 27 starts, she was third on the team in points with 8.8 and second in rebounds with 13.7. That was after surpassing career highs her junior year with 8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 16 starts.

At season’s end, however, Whittier decided she hadn’t quite fulfilled her hoop dreams. So she contacted Iska Waterloh, the agent of fellow Black Bear Abby Schrader. Her agent sought out an opportunity for Whittier in Europe and a variety of offers arose. There were opportunities in Finland, Germany and Portugal, but Whittier ultimately chose Switzerland.

“I liked the area,” said Whittier, who has been to Europe twice before but never to Switzerland. “Ashley Underwood is playing in Switzerland as well. I think we’re in a different league. The coaches were really nice and forthcoming towards me. Everything came through with the offer. I liked the location, too. It’s right in central Europe.”

Whittier admits she’s quite excited about the chance but also a little nervous.

“I talked with Heather Ernest,” said Whittier of the former Black Bear star who has been playing in Europe since leaving Maine. “She’s played over there. We all got together with her this summer, and we all played with her. She told us what to expect, and that we’d be fine.”

Whittier was a standout center for Gray-New Gloucester and averaged 14.8 points and 10.9 rebounds. She was the Western B tournament MVP as the Patriots won back-to-back regional titles. It was still a significant leap for her to succeed at Maine, even after being red-shirted as a freshman. She expects an equally steep transition now.

“When you go into college, you have to start all over again, and I feel like I have to do the same thing,” she said. “I have to go there and prove myself. I’m just going to go as hard as I can and prove myself as a player and then go from there. I know I have the ability to do that. It’s a matter of getting there and proving myself.”

Whittier’s confidence and work ethic progressed greatly while at Maine, and it showed on the court. She’s put that same dedication into preparing for this challenge.

“I feel pretty confident,” she said. “I’ve been working out all summer and getting myself in the best shape that I can. I’ve been working on my game and doing what I can do. I know what they expect of me, and I’m ready to step up to the challenge. Hopefully, they’ll like what I can offer.”

Whittier says she’s not sure how long she wants to play in Europe. A Business Marketing major at Maine, she says she’s still pondering her next career. In the meantime, she’s devoting all her energy to basketball.

“I’m just going to take it day by day,” she said. “When the season is done, I’ll make my decision about how it went and how I feel. Right now, I’m just taking it day by day and not making any plans for the future, yet.”

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