Stephen Dennis, class of 2011, has done more within the first year of his post-undergrad life than most. Rather than applying for graduate school or seeking a job, after graduating Linfield with a major in creative writing, Dennis opted for the ambitious and seldom-trodden road of pursuing a professional basketball career in Germany.
“I wanted to see some of the world; it seemed that basketball and academia were two viable options for doing just that,” Dennis said. “While I’m pretty confident at this point that I’ll be going back to school to prepare for a career in teaching, I think at the college level, I recognize that there is a limited window for me to pursue basketball.”
Dennis has played the small forward position for the UBC Tigers, a team hailing from the northern German city of Hannover and a part of the Bundesliga ProB League’s Northern Division. His present status on the team is somewhat up in the air.
“I found out right before I headed over that my paperwork, like my passport and all that, didn’t go through before the league’s trade deadline, which operates much like the deadline we have for our pro sports,” he said.
While there have been difficulties thus far, the Tigers have tried to sign him and there remains much possibility for the next season.
This said, the UBC Tigers are doing well, having finished first in the regular season, which is exclusively teams from the Northern Division, they are now moving on to the playoffs and facing off against teams from the Southern Division as well.
“We won our first playoff series against a team from the Southern Division. If we win our current series we will be in the semifinals for all of Germany.”
While the rules of basketball are universal worldwide, Dennis made it clear that in many aspects the atmosphere surrounding the sport in Germany gives it a different vibe.
”A lot of the fan participation seems to be inspired by soccer culture. They show up drunk, wearing team scarves, bang on drums, whistle incessantly and sing songs that make fun of the other team.”
The fan participation is not the only notable difference. While basketball courts in the U.S. are traditionally made of wood, many courts in Germany are not constructed solely with basketball in mind, but are rather multipurpose courts used for other sports, such as Germany’s handball.
With this being the case, basketball courts in Germany are often made out of a rubber composite, which can be quite a change for a player from the U.S.
“You get used to it quickly, but it’s a bit of a shock the first few times,” he said.
While Dennis’ future holds much potential, his eyes are not only set on a career in sports.
“For the next few years, I plan on pursuing professional basketball as a career before settling down in a city and working toward either my MFA in poetry or my Ph.D. in literature. However, before I commit to a three to five year program, I’d like to visit some countries and see how people are doing life in other parts of the world. Basketball has been a wonderful vehicle for doing just that, and I intend to continue in that vein for the next few years.”
At this point, Dennis is occupying himself with preparation for next season.
“I’m going to continue training back in McMinnville while waiting to hear from teams,” he said. “We’ll see what Hannover has to say in the matter. I loved my time there and would seriously consider returning there for the next season if they offered me a contract.”
Nick Kintop/Staff writer
Nick Kintop can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.