What are some of your top places in the world to play in terms of arenas, crowds and atmosphere, and “things to see and do”?
On the Top Arenas:
“The nicest arena I’ve played in was in Japan in 2002 at Gold Cup. Glass-smooth hardwood floor with not a single dead spot, great lighting (read: no 5,000,000,000 watt spotlights shining in your eyes under the basket!), very clean and tons of room in the dressing rooms.
The arena in Athens will always be special for me since that’s where I was awarded my first Paralympic medal. That alone makes it one of my top arenas.
Beijing had the nicest training facility though. I don’t remember the exact name, but it was a University and had room for about 2,000 spectators. But! It had the smoothest, fastest floor I’ve ever been on, bar none.”
On the Top Crowds and Atmosphere:
“There are a lot of places that are a lot of fun to play because of the different fan cultures. Brazil is always cool because the fans are super passionate about their home team to the point of booing the opposition. Sometimes you just don’t feel like you’re welcome in the country.
Japan and China were also very cool but for a very different reason. The Japanese and Chinese fans were very supportive of the game itself rather than supporting one of the teams. It may sound a little corny but the impartial fan support made for a very positive atmosphere, not to mention a very loud arena.
My last two years playing in Germany have also been very cool because the fan bases for the club teams are in some cases decades old and very established. Because we play in mostly smaller gyms with moderate seating accommodations, the fans are often sitting really close to the court. That coupled with the small (relative to a Paralympic arena) gym makes for a very loud playing environment. As icing on the cake, many of the teams fan clubs have multiple drums of varying sizes; drums = loud!”
On the Top “Things to See and Do”:
“As far as places that rank high on my “to see on vacation” list, Brazil, and Japan are way up there. I’ve been to Brazil 3 times and we never have enough time to really get out and do a proper tour the way someone on vacation would. I’ve been to a couple of beaches there as well as a few of their famous barbeque restaurants. That’s some of the best eating you’ll find if you’re a meat lover. They come around to your table with huge chunks of meat on huge skewers and slice thin strips or huge slabs of perfectly cooked meat right onto your plate.
European food is also high up on my list. Whether in Germany, France, Italy, Spain or Belgium, you’re always guaranteed a great meal. That alone puts Europe up high on my list.”