FSU Athletics

RACHEL FOLCIK: FROM POWERS TO PORTUGAL

By Dennis Grall
Escanaba Daily Press

ESCANABA - From Powers to Portugal.

That is the story line for Rachel Folcik, whose basketball career started in her hometown and is moving overseas next month.

Folcik has signed a one-year contract with Clube Desportivo da Povoa, 20 miles north of Porto, the country's second largest town. It was one of seven offers received after participating in a showcase tournament last month in Bonn, Germany.

An all-state Class D player at Carney-Nadeau High School and a standout at Ferris State University, the 6-foot-1 center was MVP of that showcase event.

She also received offers from four teams in Germany and one in Austria, but her agent recommended Povoa "because it was a Division 1 club," said Folcik. "She thought I could start there."

Folcik overcame a sprained ankle on the second day of the tourney.

"I haven't done that in eight-nine years," she said. "I got it taped up and it ended up being fine."

She scored between 17 and 24 points in every game, primarily against former Division 1 players.

"There were not many Division 2 players," said Folcik, whose Ferris State program is from the NCAA's D-2 ranks.

"I think the scouts are the ones who voted (for MVP) and they are looking for post players and point guards," said Folcik. "They wanted us to score. They told us to put the ball in the hole and you'll get a job."

Folcik, a two-time honorable mention All-American, scored 1,705 points and had 793 rebounds at Ferris, both second in school history. She was a two-time GLIAC all-star.

"It was good for my confidence just to know I was the type of player they wanted," she said in a telephone interview Monday. "I had the most offers. A lot of girls went away (from the tourney) with no offers at all.

"It was just really cool to know that I was like seen as the best player there."

The scoring and rebounding skills will be extremely valuable with her new team.

"It is in my contract that I have to score 25 points, get 15 rebounds and five steals a game," she said, indicating similar goals are in most contracts for the American players.

A maximum of two Americans are on each team, and they are the only ones who get paid, Folcik said.

"If I don't make them happy with my performance, they might give me a couple of games and they won't hesitate to send me home," said Folcik. "It is a pretty serious deal."

If she would get cut, her agent would likely find a place for her to play in Germany.

"They really wanted me to play there, but she (agent) knew I could play above that (level). She don't think I will have a problem over there."

In addition to her salary, the team provides round-trip flight, medical insurance and an apartment - her roommate will be Tina Thompson, who also attended the Bonn event.

Folcik said the European teams use an up-tempo approach with a 24-second shot clock and feature the Americans.

"They had a lot of guards there, maybe about eight-nine legitimate post players," she said of the showcase. "The coaches who talked to me were really impressed with how I ran the floor. That was one thing that really helped me.

"Over there it is more of a finesse game and faster paced. They just want you to score. My ability to score, whether facing up or my back to the basket, that was one of my better qualities."

Folcik said the team practices twice a day over a four-day span and plays every Saturday. The players also go to area schools each Wednesday and Saturday to run basketball clinics.

She talked to the team manager about the language and cultural differences.

"I told them I had no foreign language background at all, but they said everyone speaks and learns English," she said. "They would rather have me teach them better English than have me learn their language. I'll try to pick up their language as much as I can."

Folcik has not set any goals, nor has made any plans beyond the upcoming season.

"I'm just really doing this for the experience and the ability to travel," she said. "I'll wait and see how this year goes. I'll go with the flow and see what happens."

Note: Story courtesy of the Escanaba Daily Press.

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