Out of the blue came the call.
Now, Sophia Widmeyer is wearing blue.
Widmeyer, who recently finished her first Maritime Women’s Basketball Association season with the Halifax Hornets, was preparing to play her first professional season in Portugal this year, when a surprise call turned things around.
‘To be honest, it all came together very quickly,’ said Widmeyer. ‘I was focused on opportunities to play in Portugal and I had received a contract to play there. But the Dublin Lions called the following day and showed a lot of interest in me. They had done some research on me and wanted to sign me very quickly so I couldn’t turn down this wonderful opportunity. I have also always heard amazing things about Ireland.’
It didn’t take long for Widmeyer to wear Lions’ blue, donning her familiar No. 13 and playing her first pre-season game against Philadelphia-based Drexel University Dragons, an NCAA team touring Ireland.
It has been a fascinating basketball odyssey for Widmeyer.
The Dartmouth, NS, product – who played alongside her twin Eva with the Hornets last season – started her university career with the Providence College Friars and played with the University of New Hampshire Wildcats before returning home to Canada. She completed her university career near home, suiting up with the Atlantic University Sports Saint Mary’s University Huskies for the 2022-23 season.
From her first season with the Friars, Widmeyer knew she wanted to pursue a professional career in the game.
‘I set a goal of playing pro in Europe my first year playing at Providence and have dreamt about it while playing for Saint Mary’s and then with the Hornets,’ she said. ‘All of this came together very quickly. This is my first time overseas.’
The Lions were well prepared in their pursuit of Widmeyer, watching plenty of film.
The adjustment has been seamless.
‘My coach here just wants me to be myself,’ she said. ‘He knows I can score many different ways, so he’s giving me the green light so to speak. I do need to play good defence at this level. I want to be a good teammate, score in the post and on the perimeter and the lane.’
Widmeyer is one of two North Americans on the Dublin roster, joining an American player with the Lions.
The pre-season continues leading up to the regular campaign, but Widmeyer is soaking everything in as she adapts to so many new things.
She is certainly glad she had an opportunity to play in the MWBA.
The season ended in mid-June and allowed her a competitive outlet to prepare for her rookie pro campaign.
‘I wanted to play at a high level and stay in shape and the MWBA allowed me to do that because there are so many good players in the league,’ she said. ‘I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was a chance to play with my twin Eva, but also new teammates who have become really good friends. They will be in my life for a very long time. Some could even be my bridesmaids in my future wedding,’ she laughed.
The MWBA is preparing for its third season next spring.
Widmeyer is the second player to turn pro after a season in the MWBA as Karissa Kajorinne signed in Portugal where she played in 2022-23.
Widmeyer said she would advise anyone thinking of trying out for an MWBA to get on it.
‘Playing for different teams gets you out of your comfort zone and prepares you for bigger and better things,’ she said. ‘Experiencing new coaches and playing with new teammates makes you better as a player. We were treated very well. I enjoyed being a role model for the young girls who are playing basketball and watching our games.’
The outgoing Widmeyer said more MWBA players will be finding themselves playing pro overseas.
‘There are lots of girls in the MWBA who could play at the pro level, and I hope they do,’ she said. ‘There is so much talent in the league and playing with them or against me has made me a better player. I’m looking forward to representing the MWBA by playing well and helping my team to be successful this season.’
– Sophia Widmeyer is playing professionally in Ireland this season (DWinston Photo)