Bologna, Italy — Naomi Cernina Taius is not feeling one hundred pc, so she’s resting at dwelling as Virtus Segafredo Bologna and ZVVZ USK Praha take courtroom on a wet mid-December evening. It is Naomi’s first time with the flu, and whereas she’s been getting over her bout, some worldwide journey within the weeks main as much as the sport has her feeling slightly beneath the climate.
A minimum of that is what her mother, Cheyenne Sernina Parker, thinks.
In the course of the mid-season Euroleague competitors, Parker’s daughter is simply over every week away from celebrating her first birthday. Virtually all the things remains to be new to Naomi. A lot of additionally it is new to Parker. “It was simply the journey of studying to be a mom,” she says.
Parker was chosen fifth within the 2015 WNBA Draft by Chicago Sky She performed six seasons with the franchise to start her profession. She has spent the previous two years with Atlanta Dream. All WNBA The 30-year-old striker’s offseason has blasted everywhere in the world – initially to China, ultimately to South Korea and France. The time she spent in Italy this winter, she says, is “very completely different” from these; She is now a first-time mom. With motherhood comes a altering mindset: “The ball is life, however there’s extra to life than the ball,” says Parker. “Now that I’ve that perspective, the strain will go away.”
Whether or not or not Naomi realizes it, basketball is already an enormous a part of her life. She’s spent the summer time going to the Dream Video games – Parker performed in each competitors final season, months after she was born on December 27, 2021. Throughout Parker’s time in Italy, she was an everyday in Bologna competitions too, each at dwelling and on the street. She is commonly stationed on the playground with Parker’s mom, Verna Bryant, who has been in Italy serving to along with her granddaughter’s youngsters as she has since Naomi’s beginning.
Parker says she thinks typically of the sacrifices she’s made to take care of a excessive normal on the courtroom, whether or not it is being away from her child for hours at a time to work on her recreation, or her household adjusting her life. She will be able to stay out her profession goals, or the bodily and psychological toll on her physique from breastfeeding and taking part in on the similar time. “However that is what retains me going, truthfully,” she says. “It is my gasoline. Listening to my teammates give me props or simply name me wonderful for having the ability to deal with all of it. It lets me know, yeah, what I do is difficult, even difficult typically. But it surely’s all price it and it makes it a journey.” Rather more wonderful that I may share along with her someday.”
Parker’s fiancé, Kevin Teus, provides: “She is a robust girl. Not each girl can do what she does.”
Forward of her December 4 street match in opposition to Passalacqua Ragusa, Naomi wasn’t feeling her greatest and wanted to relaxation. Nevertheless, Parker wanted to begin stress-free her muscle tissue. In courtroom, wearing uniform quantity 32, she held her child in her arms and rocked it whereas she squatted.
Within the days that adopted, Naomi’s situation worsened (she’s since recovered), so whereas Parker and her teammates flew to Athens for a two-day journey to play Olympiacos, Naomi stayed dwelling. This was the primary prolonged time frame Parker had been away from her daughter. “It was arduous. It was loopy,” she mentioned. “I did not know what to do with myself.”
Bologna returned to Italy with a 79-63 win in Greece, however had two extra video games on the street. Bryant was coping with her personal battle with the flu, and consequently didn’t journey with the workforce to Campobasso, a metropolis in southern Italy, and to Szczard, Hungary.
Within the Italian league competitors, Parker entrusts Naomi to the arms of Angela Gianola, the sporting director of Virtus. Nervousness crept in earlier than the competition about how Naomi would really feel whereas taking part in. Parker says she tried meditation and prayer beforehand. “I have no idea why, [but] It was emotional,” she says. She scored 25 factors and grabbed 9 rebounds with Naomi alongside Gianola on the finish of the bench.
4 nights later, Naomi is asleep when Polonia enters Szekszárd’s area. When it was time to heat up, I organized some chairs collectively and laid Naomi on them, with workforce supervisor Roberta Resta watching carefully. As soon as the motion tilted, at any time when Bologna was on the free throw line (or throughout different stops) Parker would look down on her child. Resist the urge to stroll, although, as a result of she says, “If I get too shut, she’ll need me.”
In juggling motherhood and her profession, Parker says it helps that Naomi has “all the time been very adaptable”—a perk, she notes, that stems from herself. Naomi has began consuming pasta with purple sauce. Spaghetti is my favorite. I quickly made it to the European appointment, and received up two or thrice every evening to nurse earlier than going again to mattress. “I by no means miss an opportunity to sleep,” says Parker. “If she’s asleep, I positively will likely be.” In contrast to guys with out newborns, napping along with her daughter is “in all probability my greatest wager” for any noon relaxation, she provides.
Her teammates nonetheless invite Parker to hang around, and she or he says she nonetheless typically goes to dinner with them. The dynamic, although, is “positively completely different,” she says—not solely is she Virtus’ second-oldest participant, however she’s the one dad or mum on the listing.
Parker says her daughter is the scale of a two-year-old and that Naomi is keen on taking part in with individuals. Parker says she made some pals on the video games, together with the youngsters of assistant coach Jordan Losey. Her mother says Naomi is aware of how you can throw and move. Her taking pictures approach, Parker says, “that is slightly bit backwards in the intervening time.”
On account of Italian visa guidelines, Tyus spent the early a part of Parker’s season overseas in the USA. He arrived in Italy in mid-December and introduced not solely extra help, however extra breast pumps, Tylenol and Pampers. Parker traveled to Italy filled with the latter — she additionally made certain to deliver Aveeno Child lotion and shampoo, and Child Dove lotion, wanting to make use of the merchandise she and Naomi are used to — and she or he picked it up whereas within the States over the Thanksgiving vacation. Nonetheless, she says, motherhood “modifications the entire dynamic of simply being ready, being in cost.”
After a full summer time within the WNBA, Parker thought of sitting out the abroad marketing campaign solely or taking part in solely half a season as a solution to recuperate and spend extra time along with her little one. I explored the opportunity of returning to China, the place the season is shorter than in Italy. However with Bologna, she says she has an excellent basketball prospect and an advantageous monetary provide. As well as, you haven’t been to the nation earlier than and heard constructive evaluations concerning the metropolis during which you might be at the moment settling.
Towards Praha, Parker was tasked with making an attempt to match the productions of the massive stars Alyssa Thomas And Breonna Jones, who spend their WNBA seasons with the Czech nationwide workforce. Tyus, who has performed collegiately and professionally abroad, calls out “Lionheart” whereas Parker is launched to the viewers. He shouts pointers and encouragements from a bench close to the workforce bench all through the sport. Like Parker, he hopes her repertoire will proceed to evolve whereas she’s overseas — she is, in spite of everything, there to carry out for a workforce that aspires to be one of the best in Europe. Making a mark within the Euroleague was primarily one other draw.
As Parker entered motherhood, she acquired recommendation from her colleagues within the WNBA neighborhood. I talked extra with Candace Parker, a veteran All-Star and mom of two, supplied knowledge on elevating a daughter, the snapback course of after childbirth and the significance of maintaining time with a new child. Till now, Cheyenne hasn’t been shy about capturing as many recollections as attainable — in images and movies. She can also be wanting ahead to someday telling Naomi concerning the many locations she has already visited.
Parker mentioned all this on the night after her workforce’s 81-65 defeat by Braha. Together with Tyus, I am sitting on a bench within the weight room at Virtus’ coaching facility. Naomi is at dwelling resting with Bryant, who not solely helps with the cooking and cleanup round their Italian residence, but in addition imparts loads of recommendation her daughter may not consider in any other case, like on the lookout for meals earlier than they’re digested as a result of she’s breastfeeding. Naomi’s transient break may additionally clarify Parker’s response when requested if there was something she wished so as to add about being a play dad or mum.
“She’s simply the goat,” she says of her mom. “I could not have requested for a greater useful hand.”
Minutes later, Parker and Teus received into their white Mercedes to lastly make their approach dwelling. Their youngsters’s bedtime is just a few hours away.
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(Illustration: John Bradford / the athlete; Picture from left Cheyenne ParkerNaomi Teuss and Verna Bryant: Courtesy of Virtus Segafredo Bologna)