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Janese Banks

Photo of Janese Banks

In honor of Black History Month, the University of Wisconsin athletic department will celebrate the stories of 28 former African-American student-athletes or coaches, one for each day in the month of February.

The UW athletic program launched its "Celebrate UW's Black History" section on UWBadgers.com in 2003. It has been updated every year with new information and multimedia offerings and is one of the finest college resources for African-American athletics history in the nation.

Today's feature is on former Badger Janese Banks, who is continuing her basketball career as a professional in the Ukraine. Banks started her career with Dynamo-NPU team in Kiev, Ukraine, but has been already traded to Marel-Cherkasy in Cherkasy, just southeast of Kiev. Both teams compete in the Ukrainian Basketball League (UBL).

Banks earned third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2008 and was also a 2007 honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. She scored 1,512 career points, ranking 10th on the UW all-time list. A legal studies major, Banks graduated in 2008 as a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

Find out more about Bank's team here, though she is not yet listed on her new team's Web site.

Banks sent the following Blog about her career overseas.

Badger fans,

I am just checking in again to send an updated blog of my time in Ukraine. My last blog was sent in more of a rush and I was not really able to give the kind of description I would like to give you this time.

Despite the last blog's culture shocks I wrote about, living in Ukraine has actually been a great experience. I wrote the last blog after only being there for about a week so I don't think I gave myself the full chance of getting adjusted to living in a foreign country. I don't know why I imagined I would come to Ukraine and live pretty much the same as I did in the United States. Whenever there are transitions in a person's life, there will be change that has to come with the move and also the willingness to adapt to those changes. This move has done more good for me than harm.

First, it has made me appreciate living in America and made me realize I take a lot of small moments in life that happen for granted. I have never been the person to complain much, but sometimes even without words there can be ungratefulness in the mind and heart. So, after living over here for nearly a month now I have realized my life is truly blessed.

Ukraine has turned out to be a lot better than I first anticipated. Kiev, which is the capital city, is huge it's kind of similar to New York. The population is 6 million people, traffic can be unbelievable at time, it is very cold right now, there are shops on every corner and taxis are always readily available.

The good thing about the taxi here is you can negotiate the price instead of paying by the meter. So, no matter where you are going, whatever price is decided is what you pay, even if you sit in traffic or the driver gets lost.

Even though I still eat McDonalds a lot because it's convenient and quick, I do my share of cooking and eating out at restaurants around the city. I have even tried Ukrainian food, even though I stick to the basics of chicken and some form of rice, I enjoy it. I went to a Greek restaurant last night and I had the best chicken pita and lamb chops ever. It's funny to hear myself say this sometimes, but when I get back home, I really think I am going to be craving some of the food they serve.

As far as basketball goes, there has been a slight adjustment since the last blog. Today, I was sent to another city in Ukraine called Cherkasy and I will play for the women's team in this city. The team is in the same league as the team I was on previously and we actually will play each other in two weeks, so the competition will remain the same.

The only downside about this move is getting re-acclimated into a different environment again, but this time without any American teammates and my coach doesn't speak fluent English like my last coach did. So this really may be like a "Love & Basketball" situation where my teammates may have to translate for me, but I plan on making the most out of the experience no matter what. I won't have any regrets coming back home to the states. I plan on having memories for a lifetime.

Well, until next time Badger fans I wish you all the best and a happy Black History Month.


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