I’m on the road again; sitting at the Munich International Airport in Munich, Germany. This weekend we are free from a league game and I'm heading to Madrid, Spain, to run a wheelchair basketball clinic on behalf of my foundation this Saturday.
I wanted to use this particular blog to talk about life as a professional athlete when you’re on a “bye week.” For me that means two things; you’re still trying to make improvements in your game, and you can't forget your day job. Also, for me this is a chance to invest some extra time in my foundation, as Summer 2015 is right around the corner.
I've spent the last few years working with the young athletes at various mini-camps and my two 2014 camps with Estudiantes (one of two ACB teams in Madrid.) It's awesome to see the progress of all the athletes, especially some of the younger ones!
During a bye week, your goal is to rest your body/mind a bit and also continue to stay in shape. So your personal workouts and team trainings more or less stay the same. Fortunately, my individual trainings are with my teammate and USA Basketball's Josh Turek. The good part of training with a truly great athlete is that they bring out the best of your own game. Without a game you’re keeping your cardio level up, making gains in the weight room, and keeping your game fluid.
Also, bye weeks allow me to get out a bit and spend some time on things that don't fit the normal schedule. Living in the South of France the weather is already starting to turn nice, whereas most of my friends/family continue to get pelted with snow on the east coast.
One of the great parts of my job is the travel, whether it's with my team or on my own. Europe has some breathtaking places! I have found that the majority of travel has been pretty easy despite often traveling with two wheelchairs (basketball chair and regular use chair.)
Although Europe does not have the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), the EU has taken great measure in regards to accommodating the travel of individuals with disabilities. While I believe there is no such thing as 100% accessible, the EU has put policies in action.
The most difficult aspect is finding how to access the support services needed and communicate exactly what is needed. My advice is simple: travelers with disabilities need to be patient, self-advocate, and repeat. Most of the European countries I've visited have personal one on one assistance as soon as you check-in or land.
The airports in Germany, in my opinion, do the best to accommodate travelers with disabilities. All of the airports in Germany have rest areas where a passenger can relax and avoid issues such as sitting in a wheelchair the entire day.
I'm about to take off for my flight to Madrid, the city I view as my home away from home. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. My next few blogs will focus on wheelchair basketball out here in Europe and my foundations schedule/goals for 2015. Hasta luego y hablamos!