Gina Brierley is going to miss playing for the Manchester Mystics, but the Chadderton teenager is relishing the chance to forge a basketball career in the United States.
The former Loreto College student is off to Tampa to play for Saint Leo in NCAA Division Two.
“It’s going to be a big change,” says Gina. “I’ve grown up here.”
We’re sitting on one of the wooden benches inside the Amaechi Basketball Centre, just a few weeks before Gina is due to head for the US.
So what exactly is she going to miss?
“Everything,” replies the 18-year-old. “The people, the coaches, the team… to be able to come here whenever I want.”
Gina, a 5ft 7in point guard, has come up through the ranks at the Mystics, joining as an 10-year-old.
She remembers what it felt like to join the club way back then.
“I felt like I had accomplished something, that I now belonged to something important,” says the former England Under-18 player.
Gina cites Rehana Khalil, a former Mystics player who has been part of the coaching programme at the ABC, as an early role model.
“She was such an inspiration,” says Gina. “She told me that I could succeed in basketball if I was determined enough.”
In her last season at the Mystics, Gina was a key member of both the Under-18 and the WBBL teams.
Now she is looking to continue her basketball education on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
She had several mouth-watering offers but eventually decided on Saint Leo. A key factor was the coach, Anthony Crocitto.
“He plays a style I like to play,” says Gina, who is now in the States preparing for her new adventure. “He is big on defence and shooting.
“Outside of basketball, he is a family man. He takes care of his players. I knew he was for me.”
And what does she hope to achieve?
“To develop as a player, to experience a different culture, and to learn from a new coach with a different style of play and approach.”
We wish Gina the very best of luck in the US. We plan to keep in touch so we can let you all know how she is getting on.