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    Amy Jaeschke Makes Big Professional Move

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    All-America center Amy Jaeschke stopped by our offices this morning to say goodbye before she leaves Saturday to take the next step in her basketball career. "I have to go pack," she said. "I don't think I have enough time." Given her destination, that may not be an understatement.

    Jaeschke has signed a four-month contract with professional club Chevakata in the northwest Russian city of Vologda. She leaves this week for a training camp in Lithuania before the Russian Women's PBL schedule kicks off in October. The season runs into next spring, but Jaeschke's initial contract expires around Christmas.

    "It is pretty common to sign a four-month contract when you are an unproven rookie in their league," Jaeschke said. "After it's over, they can choose to re-sign you for the rest of the season or you have the option to negotiate for more money or sign with a different team if you want."

    Jaeschke found out she made the squad halfway through a three-week training camp in Lithuania that ended last week. She flew home to Chicago on Monday, Aug. 29, but will be wheels up again on Sept. 3 for the final preseason training camp next week. She already has met "85 percent" of her teammates -- all Russian -- and said the squad hopes to sign another American or European player in the coming weeks.

    "(The language barrier) is very difficult," Jaeschke said. "Only two of my teammates speak English and the coaches do not at all. Luckily they are really patient and will translate things for me."

    Despite the distance from home and the fact Vologda located in the northern part of a region known for its long winters ("I'm from Chicago, I'll be fine," she said), Jaeschke is excited to continue her career in one of the best professional women's leagues in the world.

    "I was kind of hesitant at first with it being Russia," she said. "But this is a great move for my career with a great team in a great league.

    "I can't believe I'm getting paid to play basketball. I've been doing this the last 20 years of my life and now I'm getting paid to do it? I went over to training camp and was thinking 'this is just like what preseason was like at Northwestern,' except I was getting paid. I know I got a free education (at NU), but getting an actual paycheck for playing basketball is so crazy!"

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    Use the time abroad wisely. Get a Masters in something, because it doesn't take long to get homesick. Few (if any) American players find a total fit abroad -- especially off the court.

    Then comes the day when you are injured or cut. If you have no Plan B, you will feel "used" by the system. Good luck.

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