Certainly for as long as her former teammates wear the uniform, there will be a connection with UConn and those that helped make Kelly Faris the player and person she is now.
Of course, when that connection must rely on something stronger – Wi-Fi – and sometimes keeping in touch presents its problems.
“As long as I have [internet service] I can keep connected with my friends and family at home,” Farisa said Monday by e-mail. “Unfortunately, I don’t always have it. So those are the times that are hard.”
As the program Faris helped lead to the national championship prepares to defend it without her, Faris’ wishes them well from her new home in Hungary.
After completing her rookie season in the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun, Faris is transitioning again, this time as a rookie with her European team, Sopron.
“The culture here is different, but similar enough,” Faris saidl. “I have not been to too many places outside of Sopron yet, but I have noticed a few random things…Everyone walks or rides a bike.
“I think it’s great, until I have to stop every few yards for someone to cross the street. Let me just say, that is not easy for someone learning to drive a stick shift. But it is really cute to see all of the elderly people out walking.”
After injuring her foot in the final regular-season game of the 2012-13 season at Notre Dame, Faris played through the pain as UConn won the national title. And she tried her best to do it again in the WNBA, but with the Sun out of the playoff race, Coach Anne Donovan shut her down in mid-August for the season after 24 games.
Faris averaged just 2.1 points and 14.1 minutes for the Sun.
Playing for Sopron, with former Maryland forward Tianna Hawkins now her only American-born teammate, is helping her get her groove back. The season starts Wednesday.
“The system here is similar to that of a college system,” Faris said. “Our team has gradually gotten better. I obviously don’t know much about any of our opponents, but we are about to start Euroleague play, which means we will see some better competition.”
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he spoke to Faris recently and she told him sitting on the bench for as long as she did with the Sun proved to be beneficial.
“She told me she has an entire new perspective about the game, which is usually want happens when something forces you to stop playing it,” Auriemma said.
By her own admission, Faris is somewhat of a pragmatic person, prone to following rules and routine. So life in Hungary has presented some natural challenges.
“The food isn’t that bad,” she said. “I’ve been able to find plenty of things that I like. I have not tried too many Hungarian specialties, though. Never sure what it is when I see it. They love to go for coffee and sweets a lot. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I love hot chocolate, and they have some good chocolate here.
“I have lucked out with the team I have. Almost everyone speaks some English. The coach coaches in English, which is very helpful. As far as people in the town, very few people speak English. If I go somewhere, I’m usually with a teammate who can help me. Often times, if we go out to eat, the waiter will realize I’m American and will bring me an English menu.
“The living arrangements here are different, but nice. We have apartments that they call a flat. Like I said, I now drive a stick [shift]..which was very interesting to learn how to drive.”
It’s not likely Faris will have time to visit Connecticut during the league’s winter break. She will take that time to be in Indiana with her family,
“I will get to go home for a short period of time and I intend on taking in as much family time and eating as much food as I possibly can,” Faris said