Diane Schuetze had always taken herself places with basketball, though using it to forge a career in Germany may not have been what she originally planned for.
The 6-fot-3 Schuetze, former Thompson Rivers University WolfPack basketball star, is now playing professionally in Europe. She moved overseas in September, suiting up in six games for the DBC Houthalen of Belgium's Division 1 women's professional league. Earlier this month she moved to the TSV Towers Speyer of Germany's Division 2 league and has played in three games with the club.
Schuetze said the transition from CIS basketball to the world of the professionals was similar to what she went through moving from high school to the Canada West. But despite everyone around her improving - not to mention having to deal with new countries, languages and cultures - Schuetze has managed to settle into her role.
That doesn't surprise her former head coach with the WolfPack.
"I did think she had the potential to be a professional basketball player," Scott Reeves said, adding that as he learned more about the professional game, that assessment became easier.
"You look at a big kid who has this huge upside and (wonder) is she going to work hard enough to go to that level . . . but I always knew she had the potential to go there."
The smooth transition was probably to be expected of one of the strongest players to ever put on the WolfPack's black and orange. In five seasons in Kamloops (2008-13), the 23 year old left her mark on the Canada West's record books, her name appearing among the leaders in almost every individual statistical category. She's currently 18th on the all-time points list, third in free throws made, seventh in total rebounds (third in defensive rebounds and 18th in offensive) and sixth in double-doubles (reaching double digits in two statistical categories).
And that's just the beginning of a list of accolades that highlights an incredible university resume.
Schuetze said the improved competition is what she expected when she went to Europe, women that are playing at the next level of the game. She said everyone is "Quicker, stronger, bigger, more experienced," and some of them have the added benefit of playing in the WNBA or with national programs during their summers.
Schuetze isn't splitting her time between two leagues, focusing only on her play in Europe, and in six games in Belgium she averaged 4.8 points per game and 4.2 rebounds. Now with her new squad in Germany, she's averaging 7.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
She said the fact that the CIS plays by FIBA basketball rules also helped to make the transition a bit easier, as all the rules are the same overseas. Though even with the rules being the same, the style of play differs.
"The girls and the game is played quicker and everyone is thinking not just the one step ahead, but at least two steps ahead, if they were going to make a certain play," Schuetze told The Daily News in an email. "All the girls are fundamentally skilled, as well as having a higher basketball IQ."
In her time away from the gym, Schuetze is enjoying all that Europe has to offer, traveling and experiencing other cultures - the perfect scenario for a graduate of TRU's Tourism Management program.
Though she's unable to predict what the future may bring, Schuetze is hoping to prolong the experience and commit overseas on a long-term basis. Though if it was up to her, it might be in a locale a bit warmer than Germany and Belgium.
"I would love to be able to stay over here long-term and continue to play, but I think I would enjoy it more somewhere where it's a little warmer, even though Belgium and Germany aren't cold compared to Kamloops in the winter," she said. "I just don't like having to bundle up just to walk outside."
Despite the cold and the time it has taken to transition to the next level of the game, Schuetze is making the most of the opportunities she's been given and taking advantage of her skills.
"I don't know if it's exactly what I hoped for, but it is definitely an experience that I will forever keep," she said.
"Obviously, we're proud," Reeves said. "We're proud as a city, Kamloops, we're proud as a university, Thompson Rivers, and I'm proud personally, that I had a part in her development as a basketball player and as a person.
"I think Kamloops and Vernon and everyone who has had a hand in helping Diane become what she's become should be proud of where she's at right now."