Jan. 20, 2014
MADISON, Wis. – For the last three years, former Badger Rae Lin D’Alie has been playing professionally in Italy. She returned to Wisconsin during the holiday season and even attended the Green Bay game in the Kohl Center on Dec. 30.
D’Alie played for the Badgers from 2006-10. The 5-3 point guard started 131 of 132 games during her career, setting the UW career record for consecutive games played and started. The Waterford, Wis., native finished her career ranked second in career assists (483) and sixth in assists per game (3.66). She was one of the shortest starting point guards in the country.
Where are you currently playing and how long have you been there?
I am currently playing professional basketball in Salerno, Italy. This is my third season playing in Italy.
What league do you play in and where are the teams that you play against?
I am in the second Italian division. We play teams all throughout Italy. There are a total of 28 teams in our league, which are spilt amongst four divisions.
How is European basketball different than basketball in the U.S.?
European basketball is different than American basketball in several ways. In Europe, we play with a 24-second shot clock where in the U.S. women's collegiate basketball plays with a 30-second shot clock. There are also a number of rules that are different like traveling calls and some foul calls. Also, I have found that American basketball seems to focus more on the physical part of the game – how strong, quick, and fast an athlete can be, whereas Italian basketball is focused more on the technical aspect of the game.
You also played with the Italian National Team. What was that experience like?
The experience with the Italian National team was really fun. I spent the summer of 2012 with the team playing in the qualifications of the European Championships. We traveled around Europe playing and visiting various cities, I learned a lot that summer and even had a chance to meet up with former Badger Ivana Mijalcevic in her home country of Serbia!
Will you have another chance to play with the National Team?
They choose the Italian National Team every summer so I will have another shot to make the team as long as I make sure to keep the attention of the national coaches during the year.
You had to learn Italian. How did you do it and what was that like? Did you know any Italian before you went to Italy?
Before I lived in Italy I took two semesters of Italian at UW. While the courses were a good start to the language, I still found it difficult to communicate. I am the only American on my team and outside of one other player, I am the only English speaker.
My first three months in the country were fun, exciting, and challenging. I found myself frustrated often as a point guard because I wanted to help out my teammates and be able to communicate, but I just didn't have the ability to do so. One of my teammates, Camilla Ardito, was a huge help. In the first months, she was basically my personal translator. I am very thankful for her and found the transition a lot easier because of the help she offered. I learned the language over time by being saturated in it and I also taking courses in the city with other foreigners. I was in class with people from all around the world, it was wonderful!
What is living in a foreign country like?
Living in a foreign culture is an experience that I am so grateful for and will always remember. I have loved getting to know the ways of the Italian people and the experience has helped open my mind to the idea of being different and adapting to new things. The Italians I am surrounded by have taken me under their wing and have taught me many things. Above all else, they have taught me about food and the importance of family, two things they do the right way! I have had the opportunity to travel to many of my team mates home cities and stay with their families, which has been a true blessing.
What do you do in your free time?
I spend a lot of my free time with a local Christian group, located in the city of Salerno. There are two missionary families from the U.S. who live here as well and between the two families, there are six kids all under the age of six. In my free time, I try and help out the moms as much as possible which ends up being a fun hangout time with the kids. I also teach English to four Italian children and I do basketball lessons two times a week. In the next couple weeks, I will be starting to study Italian again, which I am really excited about.
How often do you get back to the States? Has your family visited you in Italy?
Throughout the year I am in Italy for eight months with a 10-day break for Christmas in which I go home. I also get to be home in the summers, which is really nice and is full of much needed family time! My sister Jenna lived here with me for the first 2 ½ years and it was wonderful having her here. She taught English in a private school in the city and was a huge supporter of our team.
Throughout the three years I have been here I have had a couple visitors. My parents came last spring followed by my aunt and uncle in late May. Having my parents here was special for me and we had an amazing time. It was very entertaining seeing my parents in the Italian culture and we even had the chance to go to the town where my great grandfather was born. The highlight of the trip was a three-day road trip where we drove from Salerno down to Sicily. We had the opportunity to drive down the Sicilian coastline, which was breathtakingly gorgeous.
Do you still follow the Badgers?
One thing I have made sure to bring with me to Italy is my Badger Pride. I am on the web site almost daily and follow all the sports teams. Last Christmas, I gave everyone who is a part of the team here some sort of Badger apparel and they loved it! Everyone knows how well the Badger sport teams do because I'm always letting them know. I'm pretty sure we have at least 20 Badger fans in Salerno, Italy!