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Chatrice White's list of achievements was already long and distinguished when she graduated from Shelby-Rising City and moved on to college basketball at the Division I level.

That list gained a few lines and became even more impressive just about three weeks ago when the Shelby native helped her Slovenian women's professional basketball team to a national championship while being named the series MVP in the process.

White, the first female McDonald's All-American in the state of Nebraska, the owner of every significant program record at SR-C, a two-time First Team Super State selection by the Lincoln Journal Star, Huskerland Prep's C-2 Player of the Year for three straight seasons and First Team All-State honoree by the Associated Press for three years in a row, had, as that extensive list indicates, achieved just about everything possible on the hardwood.

However, raising a banner in foreign country while adjusting to a new culture and a new style of play may not have necessarily been part of the plan.

Regardless, White is enjoying every minute of the ride, and she's not about to stop now.

She recently returned to the area and her hometown to help out at the Columbus High Girls Basketball Camp this week.

"First of all, it’s a summer camp, so you want to have fun. But you also want to learn along the way," White said during an interview last week. "I think it’s pretty cool having a girl to look up to because I really didn’t in Shelby.

"I want to throw it out there to them that as long as you work hard and find something that you love to do and want to do it, then there’s nothing stopping you. You can do whatever you want. If you put in the time and have the motivation and the skills, absolutely."

FROM ILLINI TO SEMINOLE

For those who hadn't followed White's career since high school, the former five-star recruit lived up to the hype and then some at two different stops in college basketball.

White first committed to Illinois and played two years for the Illini achieving such honors as Big Ten All-Freshmen Team in 2015 and Second Team All-Conference in 2016. She set the freshman scoring record with 448 points her first season, was one of only three players in the conference to rank in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore and led the conference with 18 double-doubles the same season.

White moved on to play for coach Sue Semrau in Tallahassee. Semrau has won over 400 games, was named a National Coach of the Year in 2015, has been named ACC Coach of the Year four times and led FSU to the NCAA tournament in 14 of the past 15 seasons.

In just two years under Semrau, White went on to finish sixth all time in the Seminole program in blocks (104), was named the ACC Sixth Player of the year as a junior and was on the Lisa Leslie Award Watch List as a senior.

Florida State had back-to-back 26-7 seasons in White's two years with the Seminoles earning identical No. 3 seeds for the NCAA tournament both years. White and FSU advanced as far as the regional final in 2017 and the second round in 2018.

Not long after her collegiate career was over, she hired an agent and decided to explore the international basketball scene.

"I wasn’t ready yet (to be done). I figured I had a few more years left in my knees and my ankles, so I thought I’d give it a go," she said. "I figured I could travel the world this way and still get to play the game I love."

It was also a way to avoid the extra responsibilities that come with growing up, she joked.

"I also like to tell people it prevents 'adulting' a little longer," she said.

FROM SHELBY TO CELJE

Little did she know that taking a contract in Slovenia would actually hasten those responsibilities.

White found her way onto the roster of Cinkarna Celje, in the city of Celje. Though a large majority of Slovenians speak English, there were some language and cultural barriers to over come.

Her coach, Damir Grgic, also the coach of the Slovenian women's national team, spoke English except when angry or during intense moments. Then White needed an interpreter.

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She was one of only two Americans on an all-Slovenian roster.

How the game is played is slightly different, as is the preparation.

"I’d say it’s kind of more freelance. College basketball in America is more structured; we’re all on the same page," she said. "It’s a little different like that, but it’s also a lot of fundamentals, and the game is just a different pace. I don’t know if it’s slower or faster, it’s just a different style altogether."

Practices feature more five-on-five play or more five-one-five drills, unlike American practices which often focus on individual training for specific positions or individual skill development before wrapping up with team work.

And it's the only thing White had to do on days without a game. Her room and board was paid with up to two meals per day meaning she could just pocket her contract money.

But with practice only lasting a few hours, she was forced to be that 'adult' she referred to, finding her own way of acclimating to a new place with new people.

"You've got to find something to do all day," she said. "Just the fact that I get to live in and experience another culture of a foreign country is really awesome. It’s great that I went to Slovenia because it’s not a place I would have just gone to travel. Having lived there and played there, it’s a hidden gem of Europe. It was nice to get to experience that

The season runs from early September through late April. Cinkarna Celje competes in three leagues, the Slovenia Women's National League, the WABA, also known as the Adriatic League with teams from the region, and in the EuroCup Women's Tournament that encompasses all of the continent.

Celje struggled in EuroCup but took third in WABA and has established itself as the New York Yankees of the Slovenian Women's National League. Cinkarna has won four of the last five national championships and played in all five.

White helped bring the national cup back to Celje after Cinkarna suffered a loss to Triglav the year before.

A CHAMPION AND AN MVP

The championship is contested in a five-game series. Celje earned its way into the four-team playoffs with a perfect 22-0 regular season then capped it off with a 5-0 run through the postseason.

Celje took down Jezica 90-74 and 86-56 advancing to the finals against Triglav.

This time it was no match. Celje swept in three games by scores of 73-57, 95-60 and 78-52.

White was named the Most Valuable Player of the championship series.

Now, it all seems like a whirlwind. As a rookie, she was only allowed a one-year contract.

Celje would like to bring their title series MVP back to the roster but White is keeping her options open.

"It’s kind of nice to know they want me back and they liked my style of play," she said. "There’s not a lot of post players in Europe, so a lot of times they do have to recruit from the states. But I’m just kind of hanging out right now to see where I’ll be heading to next or if I’ll be going back."

For now she's having fun going back to the basics teaching young girls who were once in her shoes. 

"I really don’t think about it too much. But my parents and family members and friends from the community talk about how big of an influence and a role model I am just coming from a small town," she said.

"It reminds me that I do have a bigger platform because of how far I’ve come and my journey to get there."

Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net.

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